Ecstasy Detox - Rehab & Treatment (MDMA)

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Ecstasy Detox - Rehab & Treatment (MDMA)

Ecstasy – often referred to as E, X, Molly, or its chemical name MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) is a synthetic amphetamine analogue drug that's used for recreational purposes. (1)

It is recreationally used to give a psychological effect of an enhanced emotional and affiliative response.

The use of ecstasy has grown significantly in Western countries and it appears to increase in popularity with the young people. (1)

Ecstasy is often seen as the original designer drug because of its links to the dance music culture in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Night clubbers would often take ecstasy to feel energised and happy, to stay awake and dance for hours at a time.

Most users report feelings of emotional warmth, and increased empathy.

The effects can last for anything up to 6 hours followed by a gradual comedown.

In 2015-2016, 492,000 people aged between 16-59 in the UK used ecstasy, according to Home Office statistics, with the majority using the drug only once or twice per year.(2)

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that long term mild users of MDMA exhibit greater levels of empathy, and are better at identifying others’ emotions, than those using other recreational drugs. (3)

Between 1996 and 2014, there were 670 deaths in England and Wales for which ecstasy use was recorded on the death certificate. (3)

Some of the reasons why this manmade drug has become extremely popular is the fact that it gives people coping skills, helps with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, eliminates panic attacks, and increases sexual arousal.

Unfortunately MDMA addiction is almost always combined with a drug and alcohol addiction, and lots of other drugs.

Ecstasy addiction treatment should be done at an MDMA addiction treatment facility with the help of healthcare professionals.

The reason behind this is that ecstasy withdrawal during detox can present with severe ecstasy withdrawal symptoms. Licensed medical professionals can help one through this, in order to live a drug free life.

Negative Side Effects of Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy is considered a ‘party drug,’ but it can cause a myriad of negative side effects such as:
(4)

  • Tightening of the jaw muscles

  • Raised Body Temperature

  • Increased Heart Rate

  • Psychological symptoms such as increased anxiety, confusion, and in some cases, disorientation

  • Lethargy and Depression

  • Dehydration

Risks Of Ecstasy

The risks associated with ecstasy substance abuse include the following:

  • Long term use can lead to memory problems, depression and anxiety

  • Taking Ecstasy has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems

  • Mental health disorders

  • Anyone with co-occurring disorders such as heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma can have a very dangerous reaction to the drug and has an increased risk of fatal results. (4)

Ecstasy Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting ecstasy starts with a medical detox process, that should be done at a treatment center.

A medically supervised detox offers a treatment plan that can help with ecstasy withdrawal symptoms that are usually intense.

Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms can begin from 4-5 hours since the last dose of ecstasy substance abuse. (5)

Ecstasy abuse affects specific neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, responsible for it’s mental effects:

  • Serotonin – Regulates mood, sleep/wake cycles, sexual activity, and nociception (sensation of pain).

  • Dopamine – Excess free dopamine in the brain is associated with increased pleasure and positive emotional affect (mood).

  • Norepinephrine – Regulates heart rate and blood pressure

Neural pathways are flooded with excesses of these neurotransmitters during ecstasy use, but later the user then suffers the subsequent low, or come-down, after usage has ceased. (5)

This results in a number of Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms which can last up to several weeks, depending on specifics. Here are the signs to look for, in a loved one: (5)

  • Frequent cravings– Physically & emotionally

  • Low mood/affect/mental depression – While most will experience mild-moderate depression anxiety after ceasing ecstasy use, withdrawal symptoms can include profound low mood, caused by reduced serotonin levels, that merits medical attention, such as suicidal ideation. This is especially likely in those with pre-existing mental health issues.

  • Increased anxiety – The reduced serotonin levels during ecstasy withdrawal, combined with fluctuations in norepinephrine levels, can result in increased anxiety during withdrawal, resulting in panic attacks, in more severe cases.

  • Confusion or disorientation – For some users, withdrawal symptoms can manifest as alterations in sensory perception and time distortion, both during usage and withdrawal.

  • Fatigue, tiredness – Until Serotonin and Dopamine levels find equilibrium again, most users will experience increased tiredness and lethargy, often sleeping for 3-4 days at a time, under withdrawal.

  • Loss of appetite – Dopamine levels influence appetite modulation in the hypothalamus, and until dopamine levels are restored, most users will experience reduced appetite during withdrawal symptoms.

  • Impaired concentration and memory – The combination of neurotransmitters affected in the brain, especially serotonin lows, often results in reduced ability to focus, or maintain concentration, over time.

  • Temperature fluctuations – High dosage MDMA can interrupt the brain’s ability to regulate body temperature via the hypothalamus, therefore high dosage users are likely to experience continued temperature fluctuations until full detoxed. (5)

Whilst potencies of MDMA are generally rising over time, the majority of Ecstasy sold on the street is cut with other drugs or fillers, such as ketamine, amphetamines, heroin, etc.

This means that individual withdrawal from ecstasy symptoms experienced will vary greatly depending on the specific supply purchased. (6)

Additionally, since many users are also consuming e.g. alcohol or marijuana whilst using ecstasy, the risks of such unpredictable effects rises dramatically due to the interaction of these multiple substances together.

One however needs to be aware of their substance use disorder in order to seek professional help at a treatment facility.

Any treatment center that runs an addiction therapy medical treatment within a controlled environment can help one with their MDMA drug abuse problems.

With severe addiction, outpatient treatment is not advisable. Physical addiction can only be eliminated at an inpatient rehab medical facility.

The reason is that the withdrawal process for the addictive substance can be pretty intense, and a medically assisted detox performed by treatment centers is the best bet for beating ecstasy drug addiction.

Addiction Treatment: Ecstasy Withdrawal And Detox

Detox > Rehab > Aftercare

While short term detox treatment options for Ecstasy drug are available, successful addiction treatment for ecstasy misuse usually involves tackling both the physical, and mental health, symptoms.

Following up medical detox with structured emotional help, group therapy and other types of therapy with a qualified healthcare provider can help one understand the addiction from the inside out.

This provides alternative coping mechanisms, and it is a realistic solution toward long term recovery from ecstasy drug addiction.

In this way, most treatment centers offer a programme based on the basic three elements of drug and alcohol detox, therapeutic rehab help, and aftercare planning for the future.

In-Patient .v. Outpatient

The most common way to achieve this comprehensive recovery from addiction is in a residential rehab setting.

Staying residentially in a clinic removes the external emotional triggers, that keep individuals locked in drug addiction over time.

In the separation of a residential setting, there is an opportunity to discover peers on the same addiction journey, and it also helps with the physical effects of ecstasy withdrawal.

Ecstasy Detox

Detoxing safely from Ecstasy addiction allows the brain to restore balance to neurotransmitter levels.

The body can then process and release excess MDMA left in the system, as well as remove any remaining toxins present from the agents often added to Ecstasy before sale, such as baking soda, bath salts, milk powder, or laxatives.

Undertaking Ecstasy detox, as opposed to simply withdrawing, usually means being prescribed medication that tackles the underlying chemical imbalances present during withdrawal.

However, since ecstasy works on a number of chemical mechanisms in the brain, there is no one dedicated medical detox specifically designed for ecstasy withdrawal.

As such, completing an Ecstasy detox under the supervision of a medical professional means that any withdrawal symptoms can be dealt with as they arise, with an approach that is personalised to the individual.

Rehab

Rehab usually begins a few weeks after Ecstasy detox has started. This provides the opportunity to deal with the addiction first hand.

A structured therapeutic programme should be designed to make the most of one’s time in residential treatment, and will help one tackle the causes of the patterns of drug use in one’s life.

This means having access to both emotional and physical therapy to rebalance ones body and mind.

Therapeutically, it’s important that one is ready and willing to look closely at the patterns of one’s addiction over time, and to accept responsibility for them.

Most addiction treatment programmes will expect one to take part in a daily agenda of activities in the clinic.

Ecstasy Rehab Programme

The addiction treatment program at Abbeycare for Ecstasy comprises an end-to-end comprehensive primary care model for addiction treatment and recovery:

  • Medically supervised detox, personalised to one’s needs

  • A personally assigned case manager in the clinic, who works with one, throughout one’s stay

  • An individual care plan for treatment, with clearly defined goals, and benchmarks to measure progress, along the way.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions that help individuals understand the core beliefs, behaviours, and patterns behind their addiction.

  • One-to-one keywork sessions, including 12 step work, and measuring one’s progress towards recovery goals.

  • Integration into local mutual aid meetings, helping establish attendance as a habit, before leaving treatment.

  • Holistic therapy, including massage, reiki, and reflexology, providing multiple options for ways to deal with stressors.

  • Personalised aftercare planning, to help establish both practical and emotional supports, for long term abstinence from ecstasy.

Aftercare

Even from the point of admission, many clinics will be considering aftercare planning for their addiction clients.

This involves taking a detailed look at one’s needs, together with the insights and progress made to this point, to arrive at a detailed plan for one’s long term ecstasy recovery, after one leaves treatment.

This will usually include practical elements, that help clarify what structure day-to-day life will take, as well as emotional supports to turn to, when life stressors happen.

It often allows us to see more clearly, what life in recovery from MDMA use will be like, what supports will be in place, and how that will feel.

The addiction specialists in the clinic are often in recovery personally – there is no-one more qualified to help set clear expectations for the road ahead in recovery.

Aftercare is almost always a part of the drug addiction treatment plan as it helps one maintain a life of sobriety after rehab. It also ensures that one is able to continue utilizing all of the lessons they learned in rehab so as to help control a relapse.

Finding a good rehab center can significantly increase the chances of ecstasy addiction treatment and overall enhancement of one’s healthy and well-being. Contact Abbeycare Foundation today for an in-depth conversation about one’s rehab options.

FAQ

Is MDMA addictive?

Yes. Physically, users of MDMA do self-medicate with further doses during withdrawal, to alleviate the symptoms experienced by the fluctuations in brain chemicals they experience. In this way, it can be considered physically addictive.

Psychologically, an individual can begin to use MDMA as a coping mechanism in the same way as any other substance, or become dependent upon drug use to function in certain situations, or when under stress. Similarly, MDMA can be considered to be psychologically addictive.

Can ecstasy use cause heart attack/seizures/vomiting/depression/psychosis/hallucinations?

Yes. Since street ecstasy is almost always combined with other fillers, including other street drugs, it is impossible to rule out any one possible side effect of ecstasy abuse. This is especially apparent when the individual is combining Ecstasy with other substance abuse, alcohol, or pre-existing prescription medication.

Can I self-detox from Ecstasy?

Yes. but its not advisable. Whilst it’s possible to undertake Ecstasy detox alone, in the majority of cases this is not recommended, since any withdrawal from ecstasy is dependent on a number of interacting factors which are unique to each individual, and can produce unpredictable results, e.g.

  • Quantity and recency of usage

  • Usage history and tolerance developed

  • Quality and purity of supply; presence of other drug-types

  • Using other recreational drugs simultaneously

  • Interaction of Ecstasy with other medication prescribed by a Doctor.

  • Co-occurring or pre-existing physical and mental health issues

All of the above factors present even greater risk when combined with the psychological symptoms of withdrawal most will experience.

For these reasons we strongly advocate completing Ecstasy detox in a supervised clinic setting.

What Ecstasy treatment options are available?

Clinic stays of 7-28 days are available to tackle both detox and therapeutic rehabilitation from Ecstasy addiction.

While short term detox stays are available, we strongly advocate a standard 28 day stay including therapeutic help, to maximise likelihoods of positive long term recovery outcomes.

How long does it take to detox from Ecstasy?

Generally, most users find that the majority of withdrawal symptoms have reduced in severity or disappeared after around 7 days.

However it is not uncommon to experience symptoms for several weeks, especially where co-occurring issues exist.

What medication will I receive to detox from Ecstasy?

Whilst there is no dedicated medication specifically designed as an Ecstasy replacement therapy, the medical professional may prescribe symptom management medication, as the need arises.

How much does ecstasy treatment cost?

The costs of different ecstasy treatment options vary depending on one’s duration of stay at the clinic, and other factors.

Get an instant guideline price from Abbeybot here. Please note pricing is dependent on approval from both our Admissions and Clinical teams. Get help for Ecstasy addiction by calling us direct on 01603 513 091.

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Last Updated: April 8, 2022

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.