MDMA, known chemically as 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, belongs to the amphetamine class of drugs. It is commonly known as “ecstasy,” and other street names for MDMA include “E” and “X.” The recovery from ecstasy and MDMA overdose is similar to that of other amphetamines.
MDMA was originally used in psychological therapy, especially cognitive therapy. Clinical studies are also evaluating the use of MDMA in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in patients with terminal cancer. It is best-known today as a recreational drug due to its ability to produce a sense of euphoria and diminish anxiety. MDMA is often used at dance parties and some users combine it with other recreational drugs such as marijuana, LSD and ketamine. MDMA users also take this drug with mentholated products such as menthol cigarettes and lozenges.
The Side Effects
The scientific journal Psychopharmacology published an overview on the side effects of MDMA in January 2001. It studied 74 subjects who used MDMA in normal dosages over several years. Side effects that occurred in the majority of the subjects included the following:
- difficulty concentrating
- dry mouth
- lack of appetite
- jaw clenching
- teeth grinding while asleep
The most significant effects of an MDMA overdose relate to the reduction of the user’s serotonin levels and the possibility of psychosis, which can occur when abusing any stimulant. These symptoms can generally be divided into psychological and physiological symptoms. The psychological symptoms of an MDMA overdose include the following:
- Disorganized thinking
- Cognitive impairment
The physiological symptoms of an MDMA overdose include the following:
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Muscle rigidity
- Exaggerated reflexes
Ecstasy and MDMA overdose treatment generally consists of three phases, including detoxification, therapy and aftercare. The detox phase involves the cessation of MDMA use, which produces withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. A physician may treat these symptoms with medication if they’re especially severe. Health care professionals should also evaluate patients regularly during the detox phase. The most common problems encountered by MDMA addicts going through detox include damage to their teeth and liver toxicity.
Therapy for MDMA addiction is usually in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which often takes place on an inpatient basis. The goal of this type of therapy is to change the way in which the patient responds to drug cravings and the peer pressure to use drugs. Education is also an important part of therapy for MDMA addicts, which includes information on the changes in the brain that MDMA causes and its side effects.
Aftercare is the phase of treatment that occurs after the patient is released from the MDMA rehab facility, and its primary goal is the prevention of a relapse. This is especially difficult in the case of MDMA, due to its reputation as a safe drug. Patients may also have a hard time adjusting their lifestyle to avoid circumstances where they may feel pressured to tale MDMA.
Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous are a common part of the aftercare phase of treatment. NA accepts people who are addicted to a variety of drugs, including MDMA. This support group is based on Alcoholics Anonymous, which was the original 12-step program. Meetings are the primary feature of NA meetings, which allow MDMA addicts to interact with other people who are facing similar addictions. They also provide a replacement peer group, which is especially important in the case of MDMA addiction. A scheduled meeting can allow recovering MDMA addicts to avoid high-risk situations by simply informing their friends that they have another appointment.