MDMA Addiction


MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, also known as “Molly,” is a synthetic drug that has hallucinogenic and stimulant properties. It usually comes in a crystalline white powder or capsule that can be ingested, snorted or swallowed by users. Molly is considered to be the “pure” form of MDMA, in comparison to its Ecstasy counterpart. However, even powder and capsules sold as pure MDMA can contain cheaper substitutes such as bath salts and other drugs, which can have additional negative consequences on a person’s health.

How does MDMA work?

Once MDMA enters the body, it increases the activity of three main neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals:

  • Dopamine plays a major role in the reward system; it is responsible for producing increased energy and euphoria in MDMA users.
  • Norepinephrine is associated with the fight-or-flight response; MDMA users may experience increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Studies show that MDMA increases serotonin, or 5-HT, release and inhibits its reuptake. Serotonin is associated with mood, appetite and sleep; increased activity of serotonin helps to explain why MDMA users report feeling elevated mood, empathy and emotionally close to other people around them.

Short-term effects

The effects of MDMA typically begin 15 minutes to an hour after it enters the body, which could depend on a number of factors, such as whether the person ate a meal that day, and lasts for about three to six hours. Taking MDMA can result in changes in mood, perceptions and memory.

At low doses of the drug, MDMA can lead to pleasant and euphoric effects. People may feel an enhanced sense of well-being, emotional warmth and empathy toward other people. Sensory and time distortions are also common in low to moderate doses of MDMA.

Other short-term effects of MDMA may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle cramping
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heart beat
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Heart failure
  • Problems with temperature regulation
  • Hyperthermia (heat-related illness)
  • Vision problems (blurred)
  • Involuntary jaw clenching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Sweating and/or chills
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Faintness
  • Paranoia


People who take high doses of MDMA can affect their body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can result in overheating and other heat-related problems, including muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches and increased heart rate. One of the biggest dangers of taking drugs containing MDMA is the risk for overdose, which can lead to dangerously high body temperature and organ damage to the brain, heart, kidney or liver.

People who take too much MDMA may experience the following symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heat stroke
  • Dangerously high body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Panic attacks
  • Losing consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

To avoid physical exertion and overeating, hydration is often recommended for MDMA users. On the flip side, drinking too much water, or hyponatremia, can also be a problem for MDMA users as it can dilute sodium in the body.

Long-term effects

MDMA can disrupt the activity of important chemicals in the brain, resulting in short- and long-term changes in a person’s cognitive abilities, behavior and mood. In the hours, days and weeks after taking MDMA, users can experience significant reductions in memory, information processing and other cognitive abilities.

One of the dangers of taking MDMA for long periods of time is the depletion of serotonin, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. The following MDMA withdrawal symptoms can also last a week or longer after a person takes the drug:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Sleep problems
  • Restlessness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Decreased appetite

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Health consequences

People who abuse MDMA or take it for long periods of time can experience more serious consequences. For example, the following consequences can result from long-term MDMA abuse:

  • Neuronal damage
  • Brain lesions
  • Hemorrhages
  • Kidney, liver and heart damage
  • Liver failure
  • Impaired thinking, information processing and memory
  • Death due to dehydration, exhaustion or heart attacks
  • Convulsions
  • Kidney failure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis

MDMA addiction treatment

Sovereign Health of California’s holistic approach for MDMA addiction includes detoxification. Our MDMA detox is beneficial for relieving patients of symptoms such as depression and anxiety and improving mental clarity. Sovereign Health’s MDMA treatment program consists of comprehensive evidence-based, complementary and experiential treatments.

During the admission process, patients receive thorough medical and biopsychosocial assessments to diagnose and individualize each patient’s treatment program according to his or her specific needs. Some of our evidence-based approaches that benefit patients who have MDMA addiction include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), psychoeducation and neurofeedback.

For more information about Sovereign Health’s MDMA treatment program, contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team. We can start you on the path to MDMA recovery.

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