According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), or commonly referred to as “ecstasy” or “molly,” is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy and pleasure as well as distorted sensory and time perception.” 

The Neurobiology Behind MDMA and Dangers

MDMA was first used in the 1970s as an aid in psychotherapy and eventually was labeled as an illegal drug. Today, there are some clinical trials being conducted on MDMA as a possible treatment aid for mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. But the most common use for MDMA is at all-night dance parties (“raves”), however, the drug now affects a broader range of people.

So what is it about the chemical make-up of MDMA that makes it so powerful and dangerous? The NIDA states, “MDMA acts by increasing the activity of three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It enhances the release of neurotransmitters and/or blocks their reuptake, resulting in increased neurotransmitter levels within the synaptic cleft (the space between the neurons at a synapse.)” 

This fluctuation in levels can result in the following effects on the chemicals in the brain:
  • Causing a large release of the neurotransmitter called serotonin resulting in the mood-elevating effects such as euphoria and extreme talkativeness.
  • Once the drug wears off, there is an equally large depletion of the amount of serotonin in the brain creating negative psychological aftereffects such as depression or poor memory that people may experience days after taking the drug.

The addictiveness of MDMA is still being investigated, however, studies have shown that continued use of the drug will alter levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It’s rare to find MDMA in pure form, as it is often cut with other substances such as ketamine or cocaine, making the drug particularly dangerous. 

Adverse effects from MDMA (NIDA), especially from more potent forms such as molly, can include:
  • A rise in body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Dehydration
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle or joint stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Overdose
Addiction and Treatment For MDMA

Treatment for an MDMA addiction could literally be the difference between life and death. If you or a loved one are struggling with MDMA abuse or another substance use disorder, get help today. Treatment can be tailored to your specific needs. Addiction is treatable and there is hope in recovery. 

If you’re ready to begin taking great strides towards your health and wellbeing, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today. Mental illness should be taken seriously and, if not treated early on, more severe conditions can arise. The best way to promote happiness and health is to seek help – and to begin using effective interventions for treating the problematic symptoms a person is experiencing. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need. Please call Alta Loma today – and you’ll be surrounded by a healthcare team who truly cares about your recovery. 866-457-3843


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You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.