MDMA Abuse: The Withdrawal and Detox Timeline

59.6% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 used alcohol within the past month, while only .9% of young people report using MDMA. Although MDMA use is far less common than alcohol or even marijuana use, it’s a misconception that people can’t become addicted to party or club drugs. Unfortunately, club or party drugs like MDMA can be addictive and also cause short-term and long-term adverse side effects.

MDMA Withdrawal and Detox

What is MDMA?

MDMA is also known as Molly or ecstasy. MDMA comes in a powder form and is a stimulant, hallucinogenic drug that drastically increases a person’s energy and sociability, making it an ideal substance to take on the party or club scene. The drug causes drastic distortions in a person’s perception and their sense of time and dramatically enhances the senses. Scientifically, the drug is also referred to as an “entactogen,” in that it increases the user’s self-awareness and their ability to empathize with other people.

In tablet form, the drug is called ecstasy. This is the most popular way that people get high on MDMA. Unfortunately, these illegal tablets aren’t tested or held to any regulatory standards. Ecstasy tablets or capsules are often cut with substances that aren’t MDMA, or the tablets have little traces of the MDMA drug. The effects of ecstasy tablets can be widely unpredictable. Methamphetamine, caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, cocaine, heroin, and OTC cough suppressants are often used to “cut” an MDMA tablet.

The name “Molly” is slang for the word “molecular,” and it refers to the powder form MDMA takes in its pure form. Users may mistakenly believe that Molly sold on the street is “cleaner” and won’t contain drugs and other contaminants often present in ecstasy tablets, but that’s typically not true. The DEA has tested seized Molly samples from off the street and has found that Molly is often cut with the same substances found in ecstasy. In some cases, seized Molly was not Molly at all, and instead was the same substance found in bath salts. Molly and ecstasy are manufactured in illegal labs, most of which can be found operating in either Canada or the Netherlands.

How is MDMA used?

When a person takes MDMA in an ecstasy tablet or capsule form, effects are often felt about 45 minutes to one hour later. Within the first half hour, the effects will peak, and last for around three to four hours. Sometimes, people will experience adverse side effects from MDMA for several days after use.

How is MDMA abused?

While most people will only take one tablet at a time, users will sometimes take a second tablet after the effects of the first tablet fade, which can prolong and also increase the chances of adverse side effects and overdose.

What are the statistics on MDMA use in the U.S.?

National surveys have found that 17 million people in the U.S. ages 12 and older have used MDMA at least once in their lives. Within a given month, more than half a million people will use MDMA. Use among teens has gone down within the past decade, with the majority of survey participants indicating that MDMA availability has decreased within the past decade.

Who is most likely to use MDMA?

MDMA use is highest among young males, urban dwellers, people with a steady weekly income, and people with a higher lifetime use rate of other substances. Most people who abuse MDMA report first use at age 21, and LGBTQ persons are more likely to use MDMA than heterosexuals.

What are withdrawal and detox from MDMA like?

MDMA differs from other drugs in that its effects on the brain persist for some time even after it is completely expelled from the body during detox. The severity of MDMA addiction and abuse can influence the withdrawal timeline. Also, the fact that MDMA is often cut with other drugs can prolong withdrawals or otherwise intensify the symptoms. For most, MDMA withdrawals can last for ten days or more, and include the following symptoms:

  • Confusion and Anxiety
  • Agitation and Hostility
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia and Fatigue
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Decreased Appetite

These symptoms often last for weeks after initial detox and withdrawal. People who attempt to quit taking MDMA without medical assistance will often experience severe, depression-like symptoms, insomnia, and anxiety. Although most MDMA withdrawal symptoms are not acutely life-threatening, if these symptoms develop into an episode of depression, users can be at-risk of self-harm and suicide. The reason why MDMA after effects last so long is because the drug impacts the brain on a complex neurological level.

For example, when a person doesn’t take MDMA, the brain releases serotonin at regular intervals and healthy levels. This periodic release of serotonin is what keeps people from feeling depressed or anxious. But when someone takes a drug like MDMA, it hijacks this process and influences the brain to release high levels of serotonin at once, which induces a “high” or euphoria. The problem occurs when the brain runs out of neurochemicals and can’t produce them fast enough. Once the user detoxes from ecstasy or MDMA, fewer serotonin receptors in the brain are activated, and this causes feelings of depression, anxiety, and issues with memory and cognition. This adverse side-effect of MDMA can last for days to weeks, especially if a person has a severe addiction to the drug and has abused it for a long time.

Why would someone need professional help for MDMA addiction?

Although MDMA withdrawal side effects can’t kill someone directly, they are incredibly painful and unpleasant to go through without outside intervention and help. These withdrawal side effects can increase the chances of a person re-taking MDMA to lessen the severity of the side effects or influence them to take a different drug or self-medicate with alcohol for relief. In many cases of addiction, users turn to drugs like MDMA to self-medicate mental health issues or emotional pain. Also, MDMA withdrawals can increase the chances of someone experiencing an episode of depression.

By going to rehab for MDMA addiction and detox, these underlying issues and risk factors are addressed. A medical detox center can also prescribe safe medications to help lessen the severity of withdrawal side effects, and treat an episode of depression. Patients also have access to a team of experienced professionals who can help them uncover their triggers for drug use and prevent it from happening again in the future.

Can You Develop a Dependence on MDMA?

When people think of drug dependency, they often imagine drugs such as meth or heroin. Though MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, might have a reputation as a single-use party drug, it also has the potential for long term abuse. Research has found that 43 percent of users of this psychoactive drug met the criteria for substance dependency.

Having a physical dependence on a drug like MDMA means that the body struggles to function properly without it. A person who regularly uses this narcotic may attempt to produce certain neurotransmitters on their own. Therefore, their body may crave the drug because it is the only way to receive higher serotonin levels and other chemicals within the brain. If you have an MDMA dependency, your body may feel physically ill when you stop taking the stimulant.

Timeline for Withdrawal of MDMA

Every person who has gone through withdrawal can be affected differently. Length of drug abuse, personal metabolism speed, and overall health can change how withdrawal affects you. The majority of people with disengagement from MDMA will experience some version of this timeline:

  • First 12 hours: During the first 12 hours after MDMA usage, a patient may not notice any withdrawal effects. While they are still detoxing, they may feel a sense of well-being due to the drug’s faint aftereffects.
  • Day 1: Withdrawal symptoms start to appear gradually. People may struggle with concentrating during the day and sleeping at night.
  • Days 2 to 3: During this time, withdrawal symptoms will peak. People may feel intense anxiety, depression, or paranoia. They may also feel physically ill, experiencing issues such as fatigue and loss of appetite.
  • Days 4 to 7: Symptoms will gradually fade, but it still may take some time to feel normal again. You may continue to feel cravings for the drug that necessitates a visit to a Southern California rehab.
  • Weeks 2 to 3: By this point, the worst of withdrawal is over but might have some lingering effects. Those who abuse the drug for extended periods may continue to have difficulties with their focus and memory.

Treatment Options for MDMA Withdrawal

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to fix the symptoms of withdrawal instantly. Instead, treatment will mainly focus on ensuring you get care during this difficult time. If you are dealing with intense anxiety or depression, it may be a good idea to seek care from a mental health professional. During withdrawal treatment, you will need to focus on resting, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and generally just trying to give your body a chance to heal.

After you get proper care for your withdrawal, it is essential to address the factors that led you to abuse MDMA in the first place. Mission Harbor Behavioral Health is a safe place to get the care you need. At our Southern California rehab center, you can get support and encouragement on the path to sobriety. To learn more about our MDMA addiction treatment program, give us a call today at 805-209-4433.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

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