MDMA is a designer drug commonly referred to as ecstasy. Since its creation is has caused controversy. The drug started as a possible therapeutic tool but quickly evolved into a wildly popular and frequently abused party drug. Yet, this drug has been re-approached over the last few years and re-appraised for its therapeutic benefits. However, there are still many questions surrounding how ecstasy affects the brain. For instance, how much is too much? What does it do to the brain? Can it really help people with mental disorders? The team at Harmony Hills knows that expanding one’s understanding and education can help get treatment and give support.
Our team of counselors and therapists are skilled and informed about the latest approaches to treating substance use disorder and mental health issues. In our stimulant addiction treatment program, individuals struggling with the fallout of MDMA addiction or abuse can find the help they need.
A Brief Look at the History of Ecstasy
In 1912, pharmaceutical company Merck created MDMA as a chemical intermediate synthesis, aka; it was just something that would be used to make other things. It was pretty much put on a shelf until the 1950’s when the US Army started using it in testing. Then, in 1979, researchers started to experiment with the drug in therapeutic standards when they realized the empathetic side effects it had when administered. They thought it could help create a state of openness that would encourage more rapid therapeutic change.
After this, it exploded onto the streets, where it became the third biggest party drug on the markets besides alcohol and cocaine abuse. Over time, as more and more illegal manufacturers got their hands on it, it became more impure, with countless other chemicals such as amphetamines, caffeine, dextromethorphan, and ephedrine pseudoephedrine, ketamine, etc. However, we will discuss what pure MDMA, or what’s known as ecstasy, does to the brain and how a cocaine addiction treatment program can help.
These days, MDMA can be ingested orally or anally, snorted, and injected. It is interesting in its chemical makeup because it reacts much like a combination of amphetamines and hallucinogens. Although it does not create hallucinations, many people report having heightened senses during their high. The amphetamine aspect consists of the increased heart rate, dilated pupils, and blood pressure increase.
Studies have been performed to decide whether or not MDMA is as addictive as cocaine, and evidence so far points out that it is not. While animals in labs will choose to be administered MDMA, correlation to humans varies as they would for cocaine. Many people only use it in certain environments and situations such as concerts or rave parties.
Ecstasy’s Effect on the Brain
MDMA increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain. Many studies are currently being performed on its potential therapeutic value because of how MDMA interacts with serotonin levels. For example, SSRIs such as Prozac, which is used in depression treatment programs, must have a certain serotonin level in the brain before they can have any effect. In other words, they don’t release serotonin; they rely on it. MDMA, on the other hand, actively dumps high levels of serotonin into the receptors, which creates those feelings of compassion and euphoria.
Studies have shown that minimal amounts, taken very rarely, of pure MDMA, result in no permanent brain malfunctions. However, when taken often and in large amounts, there can be serious mental side effects such as:
- A feeling of excited calm, or peace
- Feelings of wellbeing
- Heightened sensitivity
- Increased physical and emotional energy
- Increased sociability and closeness
The most dangerous aspect of MDMA is that most people take it in combination with other drugs. Many users report using it in conjunction with alcohol, cocaine, hallucinogens, sedatives, and marijuana. The side effects of these other drugs, combined with MDMA, can result in dangerous body temperatures and side effects affecting the heart and nervous system. MDMA can actually amplify its amphetamine-like effects in large amounts, creating a clenched jaw, jitters, dry mouth, appetite suppression, and nausea. At high levels of usage, body temperature can increase to dangerous levels and the heart rate and blood pressure. This is why many people often dehydrate and die during rave concerts, as they are usually overheated but too high to notice.
MDMA as a Therapeutic Tool
While research is still largely underway, the jury is still out on whether MDMA can be considered a useful therapeutic tool when professionally administered. One line of thought is that serotonin’s overactive increase can deplete the brain’s natural receptors and often inhibit them from making more, resulting in chronic depression. However, this data has only been found in animals who have been given very high doses over an extended period of time.
However, many people have begun using MDMA as an experimental treatment in controlled environments, and the data shows very positively, especially for soldiers who need a PTSD treatment program. According to the Washington Post, the findings have been so positive that even the FDA has deemed it to be “A breakthrough therapy.” Similarly, evidence released by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the FDA has suggested, “In clinical trials with 107 patients closely monitored by the FDA, 61 percent reported major reductions in symptoms — to the point where they no longer fit the criteria for PTSD. Follow-up studies a year later found 67 percent no longer had PTSD.”
These reports were closely monitored, with pure MDMA, in a closed environment and administered by complete professionals. These soldiers went through three 8-hour therapy sessions during their experimental treatment, and these were the results. However, this in no way condones the use of MDMA or other research chemicals for people who are abusing or illegally taking these drugs.
Reach Out to Harmony Hills
So while the verdict is still out on whether or not MDMA can create long-lasting effects on the brain, all of the data available to us doesn’t really consider the fact that many people are using it recreationally on the street are mixing it with other drugs. Here at Harmony Hills, we ask what sort of situations they might be in? What kind of physical and mental condition might they be in? What else is mixed into the pill they are ingesting as a cutting agent? Asking these questions puts our team of expert addiction treatment professionals in the best possible position to support recovery.
Some of the substance abuse treatment we offer include:
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Benzo addiction treatment
- Heroin addiction treatment
- Opiate addiction treatment
- Opioid addiction treatment
- Stimulant addiction treatment
Discover what we have to offer and get your questions answered by calling us today at 855.494.0357.