The Signs and Side-Effects of MDMA Addiction
MDMA, more commonly known as ‘ecstasy’, is an unusual drug of abuse in that it makes people feel really good. Drugs that quickly elevate people’s moods like MDMA have a high addiction risk associated with them. And although MDMA remains a drug that’s not considered a hardcore drug, it’s still a drug that can cause troubling changes in the brains of users. As MDMA gains popularity with teenagers and young adults, it’s important to recognize the warning signs of possible MDMA abuse in friends and loved ones. MDMA is a potentially deadly drug when used in certain party contexts, and it’s also been documented to potentially cause long-term depression when it’s used by teenagers.
Signs of MDMA Addiction
Those who run drug treatment clinics don’t often see MDMA users come in for treatment. MDMA has gained a reputation as a feel-good party drug and remains particularly popular in the rave and after-hour dance party scene. MDMA addicts sometimes attempt to moderate their addiction (or justify its use) by only using the drug while in certain party contexts. MDMA produces pleasurable feelings, but these feelings alone generally don’t lead to compulsive use. Because there is no compulsion to regularly use the drug, the signs of MDMA addiction may be harder to notice. People who abuse the drug may need a staged intervention to get them to come in for treatment.
While usage of MDMA may seem harmless, addiction to the drug can have devastating consequences. When usage spirals out of control, your brain could end up being permanently harmed. Some signs of MDMA addiction include:
- Increasing usage of MDMA, in terms of days of usage as well as frequency of dosage within a day.
- Needing an increasing dosage of MDMA to achieve the same effect.
- Hanging out with certain groups of people just to use the drug.
- Feeling tired or mentally lethargic when you don’t use the drug.
- Missing appointments or work because you’re too high.
- Feeling like life is boring without using the drug.
MDMA Pills Are Rarely Pure MDMA
When dealing with MDMA as an illicit drug, harm reduction is a challenge because people don’t know exactly what’s in the pills that they are taking. MDMA pills may be mixed with stimulants like methamphetamine or caffeine as well as other unknown research chemicals. Not only does a person not know what they’re getting, but they also don’t know the strength of the pills. It can be hard telling a person to reduce their intake when they don’t know how high of a dose they are getting. Drugs can cause adverse reactions in some proportion of the population, and MDMA is no exception. Aspirin is not always safe, but at least with aspirin, you know it’s always going to be 325 milligrams of pure aspirin per tablet. People don’t have that certainty with illicit drugs like MDMA, so that increases the risks of adverse effects.
Side Effects of Using MDMA
MDMA is deadlier in warm, cramped conditions like those at rave parties. When you have hundreds of bodies close together in a warehouse, these typical party conditions actually make the drug deadlier. A 2014 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse provided MDMA to rats. The study found the drug to be non-fatal when the rats were placed in a large, cool space. The drug proved to be deadly when given to rats in warm, crowded confines. MDMA increases brain and body’s temperature while limiting the body’s ability to dissipate heat.
MDMA is also associated with higher risks of depression in young adults. A study conducted at the University of Montreal showed that those who used speed or ecstasy as teenagers were at a higher risk of suffering from depression than those who abstained from drugs. This prolonged hangover effect likely owes to the fact that MDMA works by releasing serotonin. The side-effects of flooding this feel good chemical into the brain of users is that these neurotransmitters can stay depleted long after the drug wears off, potentially causing prolonged depression.
MDMA Addiction Treatment
There are multiple methods of treating MDMA addiction. A harm reduction model emphasizes protecting the patient at all costs and minimizing the negative effects that the drug has on people’s lives. An abstinence-oriented model is also another popular treatment option. By completely stopping drug usage, abstinence is a straightforward way to reduce harm from drugs. Addiction treatment can be made more effective when the patient has the support of their friends and family. Once they see that people are on their side, they can lean on that support should the urge to use arise.