MDMA: Everything You Need to Know

Recovery from MDMA is possible with evidence-based treatment programs. Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070 to learn more.

MDMA, also commonly known as Ecstasy or “Molly,” is an illegal and harmful substance that distorts an individual’s perception, thought processes, and regulation of one’s nervous system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), individuals who use MDMA often report experiencing a heightened sense of enjoyment from sensory experiences, as well as increased self-awareness and ability to empathize with others. According to another NIDA report, “…more than seventeen million individuals ages 12 or older reported having used MDMA at least one time in their lifetimes”,  and many of those who experimented with MDMA are now experiencing MDMA substance abuse. 

How Does MDMA Work? 

MDMA impacts individuals who abuse this substance by increasing the neurotransmitters of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are often referred to as “feel-good” hormones and are important in the regulation of mood, energy, sleep, pain, appetite, and other vital functions of the nervous system. When taking MDMA, individuals often experience pleasurable side effects, such as an increase in mood and energy, which often leaves them with the desire and craving to use it again. 

However, while the effects of MDMA can cause pleasure, this does not mean it cannot also simultaneously cause adverse short- and long-term side effects on the user’s health, life, and relationships. 

Short-Term Effects of Using MDMA

Using MDMA causes several short- and long-term side effects with continued use. Short-term side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Impaired judgment and distorted thinking 
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being 
  • False senses of affection and empathy 
  • Increased extroversion 
  • Enhanced sensory perception 
  • Rise in and the dysregulation of body temperature 
  • Dehydration 
  • High blood pressure
  • Faintness
  • Hot flashes and/or chills 
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of appetite and/or nausea 
  • Depersonalization 

Long-Term Effects of Using MDMA

Continued use of MDMA causes a variety of long-term, adverse side effects for those who find themselves addicted to this substance. These side effects include, but are not limited to: 

  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Regular sleep disturbances
  • Heart damage 
  • Depression 
  • Impaired attention and memory 
  • Anxiety 
  • Aggression 
  • Irritability 
  • Impulsivity and increase in risk-taking 

What Does MDMA Addiction Look Like? 

Although there is currently no consensus if MDMA is considered addictive or not, it can and often times does lead to addiction. As the brain and the nervous system learn to adapt to the frequent increase in neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, it also begins to become depleted of its natural storage and production of these hormones. This leads individuals to become dependent on the drug to function in everyday life, in addition to having to use MDMA in greater quantities to experience the same effects as their tolerance to the substance increases. 

Likewise, the hallmark of any drug addiction is when an individual begins to develop a tolerance and/or dependence on a substance. You or your loved one may be struggling with addiction if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in behavior 
  • Problems at school/work 
  • Inability to complete daily activities of living 
  • Social withdrawal and/or isolation
  • Financial hardship and/or unexplained issues with money 
  • New physical and/or mental health concerns 

Treatment for MDMA Addiction

Most treatment programming begins with supervised medical detox, during which individuals are safely monitored under the supervision of medical professionals who have specialized training in supporting individuals as they detox and withdraw from substances. This must be done before further treatment can be started and maintained. Due to the intensity of symptoms such as anxiety, drug cravings, nausea, and other flu-like symptoms that can be experienced in the drug detoxification process, being in the care of medical professionals specializing is critical to keep oneself and those around them safe. 

After drug detox, individuals often continue with residential care. Residential care is a crucial and needed piece to healing from drug addiction. At Hawaii Island Recovery, Hawaii’s premiere residential substance abuse treatment center, we offer residential treatment with programming that is customized depending on an individuals’ medical necessity for residential care that supports their long-term recovery and goals. 

Before beginning further treatment after the initial drug detox period, individuals meet with our treatment team to discuss what types of holistic, evidence-based, and experiential programming will be most supportive to their needs and goals as they begin their journey to sobriety and recovery. Residential treatment is customized to fit the needs you have in your recovery, as everyone’s needs are different, and is why it’s critical to have a treatment plan that makes sense for you as you begin healing, to truly heal. 

Next Steps 

Most individuals continue treatment and care with outpatient support and programming after their residential treatment is completed to support them as they reintegrate into their everyday life, relationships, and community. Aftercare is a critical piece to long-term healing and sobriety because, even after completing treatment, relapse is common for those without appropriate holistic and evidence-based aftercare programs.

Our goal at Hawaii Island Recovery is to support individuals through evidence-based, holistic, and comprehensive treatment programming in a serene and healing environment to support you as you begin your journey toward freedom from addiction and begin to experience wellness, longevity, and liberation in your life. 

Drug addiction causes severe harm to one’s well-being, life, and relationships. Oftentimes, without treatment, the long-term effects can be irreversible and even fatal in some cases. Recovery is possible and starts with finding a treatment program that supports you as you recover. At Hawaii Island Recovery, located on the Big Island, we can help you reach the goals you have for yourself in recovery. Call us today at (866) 390-5070 to learn more about how we can support you.

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