MDMA was initially considered as a benefit for the use of treating psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders. Although research continues with regards to the potential effectiveness, it is no longer medically provided. However, the illegal drug’s ability to enhance sociability, empathy and enhanced feelings of euphoria have contributed to its popularity.

The path that the MDMA mechanisms target is three main neurotransmitters:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine

An increase of serotonin and dopamine leads to a feeling of greater pleasure and increased energy whereas norepinephrine affects the fight or flight response, but causes a dangerous stimulating effect on the heart rate and blood pressure. It’s not entirely clear how the powerful drug generates the fundamental emotional responses; however, the release of serotonin and dopamine highly contribute to the feelings of perceived happiness.

Staggering Statistics

The popularity of the drug has contributed to an estimated 12 million Americans trying the illegal substance; resulting in increased MDMA addiction treatment across the nation. As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control, there were 63,000 deaths from drug overdoses and MDMA is responsible for an estimated 11 percent. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists MDMA as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and considers it as a higher potential for abuse and dependence.

Dangerous Elements Combined

The psychological responses to MDMA influence users becoming highly addicted to the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), initially, the contents within MDMA powder and tablet form consisted of 30-40 percent of the drug with the remaining contents consisting of typical non-essential cutting agents in an effort to increase the profits for those who sell the drug. However, because of the impurity of MDMA, NIDA reported that drug dealers are now choosing to increase the potency by including extremely harmful elements such as bath salts, cocaine, ketamine, and methamphetamine (otherwise known as crystal meth) as well as synthetic hallucinogenic such as para-methoxyamphetamine. Additionally, over-the-counter medications are being used despite the attempts by retail drug stores that limit the number of purchases of certain medications such as Sudafed. A further study by NIDA showed a steady trend among young people becoming addicted.

Treatments and Withdrawal

Those who seek MDMA addiction treatment are provided two choices: intensive outpatient or residential.

Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Hostility 

A person who has abused the drug and needs to be sequestered, controlled and structured will typically be recommended for residential treatment whereas someone who is able to function through daily life with family, a job and other life responsibilities will benefit from outpatient treatment. However, outpatient treatment is not for someone who is considered a heavy user.

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