November 16, 2023

MDMA Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

image of man representing hallucinogen addiction symptoms

MDMA is also known as molly or ecstasy. The substance is classified as a Schedule I controlled drug in the U.S. This classification denotes that MDMA has no currently recognized medical benefits and a strong potential for abuse and dependence. Can you get addicted to MDMA, then?

Is MDMA Addictive?

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Like other addictive substances, molly is associated with the development of dependence and a surge of dopamine in the brain that often triggers the desire for repeated use.

Physical dependence involves the formation of tolerance. Tolerance builds with regular use of an addictive substance, with the effects diminishing and more of the substance required to achieve the initial high. Dependence results in the presentation of withdrawal symptoms when the substance is discontinued or its use radically reduced.

Dependence is not the same as addiction, though, and it does not mean a diagnosis of substance use disorder (addiction). Some people, for instance, can develop dependence on medications prescribed for medical purposes without necessarily becoming addicted to that substance.

The primary reason that MDMA is addictive does not involve dependence and withdrawal, but rather the significant release and subsequent depletion of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. This can lead to severe emotional symptoms upon discontinuation, although researchers are unclear whether this constitutes a formal withdrawal syndrome. Regardless, individuals who have regularly abused MDMA should seek professional help.

image of woman representing mdma addiction signs

MDMA Addiction Signs

For those still wondering “can MDMA be addictive”, consider the following signs of ecstasy addiction.

Psychological

  • Depression
  • Intense anxiety
  • Exaggerated sense of love and intimacy
  • Loss of inhibitions, leading to risky behaviors
  • Confusion and paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Impaired judgement which can lead to accidents
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Defensiveness
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Diminished self-esteem and self-worth
  • Consuming MDMA to relieve stress
  • Worsening of existing mental health problems
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm tendencies

Social and behavioral

  • Frequent use of ecstasy in everyday life and outside of club environments
  • Taking ecstasy via different methods
  • Mixing MDMA with different drugs to experience a better high
  • Taking MDMA becomes more important than engaging in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Engaging in increasingly risky behaviors when under the influence of MDMA
  • Trying and failing to moderate or discontinue use
  • Dramatic changes in your appearance and behavior
  • Neglecting responsibilities due to MDMA use
  • Being secretive and defensive about use of MDMA
  • Avoiding contact with loved ones, leading to social isolation
  • Socializing exclusively with people who take MDMA or other drugs
  • Devoting an excessive amount of time to obtaining and using MDMA
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work

Physical

  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Needing more MDMA than previously
  • Intense thirst triggering over-hydration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tension
  • Faintness and dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Teeth grinding
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Palpitations or heart arrhythmia
  • Severe dehydration which can lead to hospitalization
  • Seizures

MDMA Addiction Symptoms

DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, text revision) outlines the criteria for MDMA addiction as follows:

  1. Using MDMA in greater amounts or for longer than planned.
  2. Making unsuccessful attempts to moderate MDMA use.
  3. Spending a significant amount of time obtaining and using MDMA.
  4. Powerful cravings for MDMA manifesting.
  5. Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to recurrent MDMA use.
  6. Continuing to use MDMA despite interpersonal problems being inflamed by its effects.
  7. Giving up favored activities because of MDMA use.
  8. Using MDMA in physically hazardous situations, such as driving under the influence.
  9. Continuing to use the drug despite being aware of ongoing physical or psychological problems likely exacerbated by the substance.
  10. Tolerance to MDMA developing, requiring increased amounts to deliver the initial effects.

MDMA Addiction Treatment

MDMA addictive treatment typically involves a comprehensive approach that addresses the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. Some key components of treatment for MDMA addiction include:

  • Detoxification: The initial step is often to undergo a medically supervised detoxification process to manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure the safe elimination of the drug from the body.
  • Behavioral therapy: Various types of therapy, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), CM (contingency management), and MET (motivational enhancement therapy), can help people understand their MDMA addictions, identify triggers, and develop coping strategies.
  • Support groups: Participation in support groups, such as 12-step programs like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or other group therapy sessions, can provide individuals with a supportive community and valuable insights from others facing similar challenges.
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment): In some cases, certain medications may be prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, though specific medications for MDMA addiction are limited.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment: Since many people with MDMA addiction may also struggle with co-occurring mental health issues, integrated treatment for both addiction and mental health concerns is crucial.
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention: Continued support through aftercare programs, regular check-ins with therapists or counselors, and relapse prevention strategies are essential for maintaining long-term sobriety and preventing relapse.
  • Holistic approaches: Incorporating holistic practices such as mindfulness techniques, yoga, meditation, and exercise can also be beneficial in promoting overall well-being and aiding in the recovery process.

Individuals struggling with MDMA addiction should seek professional help from qualified healthcare providers or addiction specialists who can tailor a treatment plan to their specific needs and circumstances. Here’s how you can get help right now.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to find mdma addiction treatment

Call Addiction Hotline for Help with MDMA Addiction

Call our 24/7 addiction hotline for immediate assistance with MDMA addiction at 855-701-0479.

Hotline staff are experienced in all areas of addiction recovery. Take advantage of confidential advice and support, as well as information about effective addiction treatment.

When you are ready to engage with detox or MDMA addiction treatment services, our hotline staff can provide referrals to appropriate treatment providers near you.

Call 855-701-0479 any time of the day or night and move beyond addiction to MDMA.

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