Learn / Find Joy in Healing From Ecstasy Addiction

Find Joy in Healing From Ecstasy Addiction

Hannah Friedman
 February 3rd, 2023|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

You might call it molly, ecstasy, E, X, or MDMA. By any name, this drug is extremely popular and easy to find. But that doesn’t make it safe. And because it’s often cut with other drugs, you might not even know what you’re taking.

Misinformation about ecstasy runs rampant. And that puts you at risk of addiction. When you’re ready to heal, a rehab that treats MDMA addiction might help you start recovery.

The Unpredictable Effects of Ecstasy

Experts disagree about whether you can physically depend on ecstasy.1 During recovery, some people have withdrawal symptoms or even need medical detox. But other patients only have psychological symptoms.

Whether it’s physical or purely psychological, addiction develops over time. But, more than many other drugs, molly can have serious short-term impacts.

Is Molly Really MDMA?

MDMA is an acronym.2 It stands for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. But when you take ecstasy, it almost always includes other substances. And because these additives are rarely disclosed, it’s hard to predict the effect.

This is an issue for every form of molly. You might expect ecstasy pills to contain substances3 like amphetamines, meth, or other stimulants. But MDMA isn’t any safer in crystal form.4 Joseph J. Palamar, assistant professor New York University Langone Medical Center, explains:

“In the 2000’s [Americans] thought pills had become so adulterated with other drugs that [Molly] was marketed as a purer form. But anyone can adulterate powder.”

And anyone can lie. It’s common for sellers to claim that their molly is pure, even if it doesn’t actually contain any MDMA.5

If you’re concerned about what’s in molly crystals, pills, or powder, you can test a drug’s purity6 with a drug checking kit. When you dissolve the drug in a certain chemical, the liquid will change color. Then, you can compare it to a key to see what it contains. Some community organizations, like DanceSafe, give these kits out for free.

Mixing Ecstasy With Other Drugs

The Drug Enforcement Administration calls MDMA a “party drug.”3 In other words, most people take it in social contexts like clubs, bars, concerts, and house parties. These situations encourage drinking and taking multiple drugs at a time. That practice is so common, there are even special names for various combinations.7

When you combine MDMA with other substances, you can’t predict how your body will respond. And if you have a bad reaction, you might not be able to get the help you need. For example, there are legal drugs that can reverse an opioid overdose.8 But time is of the essence. And if no one knows you took molly laced with fentanyl, they won’t know how to treat your symptoms.

Physical Effects

Even on its own, molly’s physical effects3 can make it dangerous to be in a crowd. For one thing, the drug makes it hard to regulate your body temperature, so it’s easy to overheat. And you might get dehydrated, because MDMA interferes with the way you process water.9 This can lead to cause kidney damage.

Like other stimulants, ecstasy puts a strain on your heart.10 And the effect is immediate—even if it’s your first time taking the drug. It raises your blood pressure, and can also increase your heart rate. For some people, this may be life-threatening.

Neurological Effects

Molly works by flooding your brain with serotonin11 and dopamine. These naturally occurring neurotransmitters make you feel happy. Serotonin also regulates your mood,12 appetite, and sleep cycles. Dopamine is responsible for pleasure13 and a sense of reward.

Artificially boosting your serotonin and dopamine levels can feel good—briefly. But these chemicals aren’t infinite. Coming down from MDMA leaves you with a neurochemical deficit.14 For some people, that leads to severe symptoms like depression, fatigue, and even suicidality.

If you’re thinking about suicide or self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Trained counselors are available to help 24 hours a day.

Long-term molly use can have an effect on your brain.15 Experts believe that it might increase your risk of mental health problems, especially mood disorders. However, researchers are still gathering data about this issue.

Serotonin Syndrome

For some people, ecstasy causes serotonin syndrome—a potentially life-threatening medical condition.16 This is most likely for people who combine MDMA with prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors17 (SSRIs) like Zoloft, Prozac, or Lexapro. But anyone can develop serotonin syndrome while on molly, even if it’s the only drug you’re taking.

Serotonin syndrome can include elevated temperature and blood pressure, confusion, and seizures. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Mild cases can resolve without intervention, but severe serotonin syndrome is often fatal. If you experience these symptoms while on ecstasy, it’s important to get immediate medical care.

Recognizing Addictive Behaviors

There’s a reason people are drawn to molly. MDMA is a common way of self-medicating,18 especially for people living through trauma like abuse or racism. Scientists are even researching ecstasy as a possible therapy for PTSD.19 But that treatment is still highly experimental.

When you take it recreationally, molly can mask painful emotions and temporarily distract you from problems in the rest of your life. But there’s a big difference between feeling good and actually healing. And in the long term, it’s dangerous to take any drug without medical supervision.

Certain people are particularly vulnerable to ecstasy addiction. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “most MDMA users are teenagers or young adults20 between the ages of 18-25. LGBTQ+ people are also at a higher risk. And because peer pressure can normalize drug use, it might be hard to know when you need treatment. If you’re concerned about addiction, talk to your doctor or therapist about next steps.

Treating Ecstasy Addiction

Because of the cultural norms around molly use, treatment can be complex. For example, you might be in recovery from more than 1 addiction at a time. And since most people do molly in social settings,21 healing may change the way you think of community.

1:1 Therapy

Individual therapy is a vital part of addiction recovery. And depending on your rehab center, you may have access to a few different types of treatment. In particular, experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a treatment for MDMA addiction.22 CBT equips you with practical skills to navigate both psychological and external triggers. In treatment, your therapist will help you identify difficult thought patterns. Then, you’ll practice responding to them with new coping strategies.

Social Support

When you’re high, ecstasy makes you feel closer to other people.23 And in the short term, that can feel very good. But it can also be hollow. Relationships that center around drug use don’t always last. And social problems make you more vulnerable to molly addiction.24

In recovery, you might want to focus on building stronger relationships. Many types of treatment support this goal. For example, some rehabs offer family therapy or couples counseling. You can also attend group therapy with other patients in your program. And it doesn’t have to end when you leave rehab. Support groups—including 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and non-12-Step groups like SMART Recovery—offer community support in every stage of recovery.

Alternative Treatments

During rehab for ecstasy addiction, your brain chemistry will rebalance. Specifically, your serotonin and dopamine levels may start to normalize. Certain holistic therapies can support this process:

Learning to Love Yourself in Recovery

MDMA simulates happiness, pleasure, and even love. But as soon as the drug wears off, so do those feelings. In rehab, you’ll learn to find joy in more sustainable ways. Recovery can help you connect on an even deeper level. Over time, your relationships will get better and better—including your relationship with yourself.

Browse a list of rehabs that treat ecstasy addiction to learn about their types of therapy, housing, and locations.

Reviewed by Rajnandini Rathod

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