MDMA use has grown over the past decades, as it has become a standard party drug. Although many people experience with MDMA, believing it to be relatively safe and harmless, MDMA abuse can lead to addiction, psychosis, withdrawal, and many other long-term effects.
MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is a psychoactive drug with properties that mimic both hallucinogens and stimulants. Often referred to on the street as “Molly,” MDMA is the staple of the drug ecstasy. Originally used to help improve therapy sessions and treat depression, it today is known as a party drug common at raves, dances, and music festivals.
MDMA facilitates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and our reward pathways. Serotonin is responsible for positive mood. Although similar, we can understand dopamine as the neurotransmitter released during activities like sex, eating, and other exciting and pleasurable things. Serotonin is released more regularly, responsible for the general mood we feel. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is a form of adrenaline and stimulates the central nervous system.
MDMA’s effects include both hallucinogenic and stimulating ones. Effects generally begin arising within 45 minutes after consumption, and may last for about six hours. Effects of MDMA use include:
Contrary to the belief of many users, MDMA can be quite dangerous. Although a true overdose with MDMA alone is rare, the overdose risk is significantly higher when it is combined with other drugs such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. Furthermore, many people end up in the emergency room due to overheating or dehydration. Rates of ER visits from MDMA have been on the rise in past decades, as have overdose rates.
There are also many side effects of MDMA abuse which may last for weeks or months after quitting molly. These include:
In addition, MDMA is often “cut” with other drugs. This means that people dilute the MDMA with drugs in order to have more of the MDMA mixture. It may be cut with a number of drugs, and the user often does not know what else is in the molly or ecstasy they are using. Common substances used to cut MDMA include methamphetamine, caffeine, synthetic stimulants, and Adderall.
MDMA withdrawal can be quite unpleasant. The “crash” that is experienced in the hours after the effects wear off can cause a number of uncomfortable experiences, including psychosis. Although people have different experiences based on their personal use, common symptoms of MDMA withdrawal are:
During MDMA withdrawal, many individuals experience strong cravings for more stimulants. As the body begins to rid itself of the chemicals, the user’s physical dependence tries to convince them to take more of the drug in order to help mitigate the discomfort and symptoms of withdrawal.
Like many other drugs, it can be extremely helpful to reach out for help when going through withdrawal. With MDMA the withdrawal process can last a week or two, and be severely unpleasant. At a detox facility, trained professionals can help you to come off the drugs with minimal discomfort and the best shot at building a sustainable recovery.