Is MDMA (Ecstasy) Addictive?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, some individuals develop physical dependence (tolerance and withdrawal) on MDMA, and animal models suggest that it is addictive. As mentioned above, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies it with other drugs that have a high potential for addiction. However, many sources report that the addictive properties of ecstasy may be mostly psychological.
There are several important considerations regarding ecstasy use that point to the potential for abuse and/or addiction:
While ecstasy is a pill that contains MDMA, it often contains other potentially dangerous and addictive drugs, such as PCP or cocaine. Thus, even if MDMA is not addictive, many of the other substances in pills sold as “ecstasy” may have the potential for addiction.
Tolerance to ecstasy develops rapidly, such that individuals will take increasingly higher amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects they used to achieve with smaller doses. This means that the potential for negative side effects will also increase over time.
Because depression and other effects that occur when one stops taking the drug are so powerful, many ecstasy users start taking other drugs such as heroin to counteract these feelings.
Individuals who use ecstasy regularly may begin to believe that they can only achieve feelings of euphoria, empathy, love, etc. when they take the drug. This leads to increased potential for psychological addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Use/Abuse
People, especially younger people, who frequent clubs are at risk for taking designer drugs like ecstasy. High school students who use other drugs are also at high risk for using these drugs. Though people from various age groups use ecstasy, those between 16 and 24 years old are most likely to use the drug.
If a person is abusing ecstasy, the following signs might be apparent:
Exhibiting a sudden rush of energy or is hyperactive
Unusually high levels of energy
Dancing for long periods of time
Complaining of chills
Clenched jaw or grinding teeth
Overheating rather easily
Being unusually friendly and talkative
Appearing very sensitive to light or sound
Appearing to have a dulled sense of pain
Becoming very “touchy/feely” and even exhibiting unusual satisfaction or pleasure from touching or being touched
Healthcare-and-medical-young-50085113If the person has been abusing ecstasy regularly, treatment options will include therapy, perhaps combined with a prescription for medications to treat specific issues, such as antidepressant medications that might address the depression and sadness that individuals experience when they discontinue use of the drug. There are no drugs that are specifically designed to assist with recovery from ecstasy addiction/abuse.
Therapy most often consists of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or therapy that uses the principles of CBT. CBT or any therapy for recovery from ecstasy abuse can either be performed on an individual basis or in a group format, with other recovering individuals. CBT attempts to:
Assist the individual with identifying personal expectations regarding use of the drug.
Identify misconceptions that the person has about drug use, happiness, success, etc.
Help the individual to recognize irrational modes of thinking and irrational expectations.
Assist the individual in developing new coping strategies that reflect more realistic expectations.
Assist the individual in developing a support group.
Identify potential pitfalls and signs of relapse.
Prepare the individual for long-term recovery.
In addition, individuals have the option of attending community support groups such as 12-Step groups or other peer support groups. Twelve-Step groups are often strong sources of social support that provide structure for individuals who are willing to follow the principles of the group.
If you or your loved one needs help, we are available 24/7 to discuss options for addiction treatment and long term recovery. Give us a call at 540-658-0154.