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MDMA/Ecstasy/Molly Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms

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Molly, also known as ecstasy or MDMA, has the reputation of a recreational drug that isn’t as dangerous as other types of drugs. The truth is, Molly can contribute to serious withdrawal symptoms, dangerous side effects, and death under certain circumstances. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MDMA was involved in 22,498 drug-related visits to the emergency room in one year. Many people take ecstasy with alcohol or other drugs, which can increase dangerous side effects and withdrawal symptoms  and the risk of death.

Trauma & Stress Related Disorders

What Happens During MDMA Withdrawal?

Anecdotal reports from MDMA users indicate that an ecstasy high usually begins up to 30 minutes after taking the drug and the effects last from 3 to 6 hours. An MDMA comedown may happen as the drug’s effects wear off. Comedown symptoms like depression and low energy can linger for several days.

MDMA comedown and withdrawal symptoms are typically more psychological in nature than those of other substances like heroin or alcohol. However, depending on your physical make-up and the severity of your substance abuse, MDMA withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and concerning. Mixing drugs and alcohol with Molly use can also cause additional withdrawal symptoms — and more dangerous ones.

MDMA comedown symptoms / withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • “Brain zaps”
  • Nightmares
  • Physical shaking and weakness
  • Appetite changes
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Clenching the jaw

There are some long-term effects of MDMA use as well:

  • It’s common to feel depressed or anxious for at least a day after taking MDMA.
  • Some animal studies suggest that MDMA can damage heart tissue leading to long-term cardiac conditions.
  • Routinely using MDMA can lead to mental illness symptoms because of chronic serotonin depletion.
  • If you already struggle with depression or anxiety, MDMA abuse can worsen those conditions.
  • Situational factors can worsen MDMA withdrawal symptoms and dangers. For example, if you take ecstasy and dance long hours at clubs or raves, you may neglect to drink water, which puts you at risk for dehydration and heart attack as well as other severe symptoms.
  • One study found the more intense the MDMA comedown, the more likely you’ll continue to abuse ecstasy because of dependence symptoms

What Causes MDMA Withdrawal?

Ecstasy abuse affects the way your brain produces chemicals tied to several of your body’s functions. That’s why some users experience withdrawal symptoms during an MDMA comedown or for several days or weeks after taking the drug. When you regularly abuse a substance, your brain can start relying on it to produce the chemicals it acts on like serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine. Withdrawal symptoms occur as your body tries to regulate itself without drugs and alcohol. It signals that your body is trying to rebalance itself and begin making adequate amounts of those chemicals without the help of substances. Functions that those chemicals are responsible for like sleep, mood, energy, heart rate, and others are thrown off during this process, which causes uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous effects.

What is Ecstasy Detox Like?

You should never try to quit any addictive substance without the help of medical professionals. Depending on the type of drug addiction, quitting cold turkey without interventions can be dangerous.

Treatment for MDMA addiction may begin with medical detox. This depends on:

  • How long you’ve been abusing Molly.
  • Your physical health.
  • The presence of co-occurring disorders.
  • If you’ve been abusing other substances as well.

The length of ecstasy withdrawal also depends on these factors.

In medical detox, a physician can prescribe medications that ease withdrawal symptoms when clinically appropriate. Nurses monitor you around the clock and will attend to any discomfort or emergencies. Medical detox keeps you safe and as comfortable as possible during this process.

What Happens After Drug Detox?

Eliminating substances from your body is the first step in sobriety. After detoxing from drugs and alcohol, an addiction treatment program helps you address the reasons why you’re abusing substances and learn healthy coping skills. For instance, sometimes people struggle with substance abuse because they’re trying to self-medicate mental health or trauma symptoms. That’s why it’s important to receive dual diagnosis treatment to address both substance abuse and mental health symptoms simultaneously. Behavioral health professionals can help you recover from these challenges with a variety of therapies and approaches. You’ll learn ways to soothe and care for yourself when you encounter triggers and difficulties without drugs or alcohol.

There are different addiction rehab programs depending on your needs:

  • Residential treatment – You’ll live at an addiction treatment center and attend groups and individual therapy during the day. Inpatient treatment provides space and distance from triggers so you can focus on getting better.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) – You’ll live at home or in a sober living residence and attend treatment during the day. A PHP usually provides similar offerings as a residential program. The difference is that you don’t live at the treatment center’s residences.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – Often a step-down option from inpatient treatment or a PHP, an intensive outpatient program meets around 9 to 15 hours a week. You’ll get support from peers and strengthen relapse-prevention skills.
  • Outpatient treatment – This level of care provides support as you transition fully back into life after treatment. An outpatient program may meet from 1 to 3 hours a week.

Recovery is hard work, but it’s worth it. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, give us a call. We can help.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

David Szarka
Medically Reviewed by David Szarka, MA, LCADC
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