I. The Basics of Ecstasy Rehabilitation

As a Schedule I drug, ecstasy has no legal medical use. Additionally, while it’s considered less addictive than substances such as heroin or prescription pain relievers, use of ecstasy can still lead to dependence. Some people may also rely on ecstasy to help deal with negative situations or emotions and, in turn, develop a psychological dependency. Plus, the fact that ecstasy is often cut with other, more addictive drugs can put someone at greater risk for a drug addiction.

This guide was written to provide an overview of the ecstasy rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for individuals recovering from ecstasy addiction.

Rehabilitation for ecstasy addiction may begin in an inpatient or outpatient environment, depending on your needs and the recommendations of professionals. You’ll begin with an orientation and evaluation and then work with your providers to create a treatment plan that addresses your individual goals for a drug-free life. While some individuals report withdrawal symptoms after stopping ecstasy abuse, they aren’t typically as severe as those experienced with opioids and some other drugs. As a result, detoxification is not typically a major portion of treatment for ecstasy addiction.

As you move through the levels of treatment for an ecstasy use disorder, you’ll likely engage in behavioral interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. These interventions teach you more about triggers for drug abuse and how to cope with those triggers in a healthier way. At this time, no FDA-approved medication exists for treating ecstasy via a medically-assisted program. Following inpatient or outpatient treatment, continued aftercare and support via individual and group therapy may be recommended.

the four steps of rehab process

II. What Makes Ecstasy Rehabilitation Difficult?

One of the first hurdles for ecstasy rehab is that many people don’t think they need it. They’re not in denial about using ecstasy, but they view ecstasy as a safe drug that comes with limited negative consequences. This isn’t the case, but as long as someone takes this less-than-serious approach to his or her drug use, it can be difficult to properly engage in the therapy and treatments that are best practices for treating an MDMA use disorder.

Another challenge is that there aren’t specific treatment methods for ecstasy rehab, and no pharmacological options that can help ease users into the process or support them during it. As such, individuals may have to deal with any ecstasy withdrawal symptoms without specific medications that reduce them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t options; cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be a best practice for treating all types of addictions, and MDMA addiction is no exception, for example.

The Unique Struggle of Ecstasy Addicts
Ecstasy…
  • creates increased pleasure and energy that may cause people to seek it out when they’re feeling down or want to party.
  • is a common drug in many party scenes, making it accessible for individuals in late adolescence and their 20s.
  • can cause withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, and loss of appetite.
  • can be addictive, although it doesn’t rank as high on dependency scales as some other drugs.
  • may contain other drugs and harmful substances, adding to the risks of dangerous side effects or overdose.

Ecstasy Rehabilitation Statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated in 2018:

  • 19,740,000 individuals 18 years of age and older had used ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
  • 2,386,000 individuals 18 years of age and older had used ecstasy within the past year.
  • 636,000 individuals 18 years of age and older had used ecstasy within the past month.
  • Only 595,000 people age 12 and up sought rehab for MDMA abuse disorders in 2017.

Methamphetamine Treatment Admissions by Gender

55.9% Male
44.1% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are considerably more likely to seek treatment for amphetamine and methamphetamine abuse, which includes MDMA. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for amphetamines/methamphetamine was 55.9% male and 44.1% female. While amphetamine addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for amphetamine and methamphetamine use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 34 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Ecstasy Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment AdmissionPercentage of Amphetamine/Methamphetamine Treatment Admissions
12-171.3%
18-2414.3%
25-3441.5%
35-4427%
45-5412.4%
55-6412.4%
65+0.2%

III. Ecstasy Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

The effects of ecstasy typically last for up to six hours, but MDMA breaks down in the body as a secondary chemical. The impacts of that secondary chemical can last much longer, and it also enhances the effects of continued doses of ecstasy. This can lead people to stack the drug, taking several doses in one day or night, which can cause serious health complications.

The lingering effects of ecstasy can also impact detoxification from the drug. First, users will feel a let down as they come off the energy high that MDMA affords. Next, they may deal with side effects, such as fatigue, cognitive difficulty, and changes to sleep or appetite. While specific medications don’t exist for MDMA detox, professional support in an inpatient or outpatient rehab during detox may be able to help someone cope better with the withdrawal process and move on to the next phase of rehab.

Withdrawal Symptoms

BodyMind
Short-Term SymptomsFatigue
Nausea
Muscle cramping
Mouth clenching
Sweating
Chills
Low mood
Disinterest
Confusion
Long-Term SymptomsDifficulty sleeping
Decrease in hunger
Not as interested in pleasurable activities
Irritability
Depression
Loss of impulse control
Difficulty with memory or focus

Ecstasy Detoxification Medications

As of late 2019, there are no FDA-approved medications for ecstasy detoxification. Clinicians may treat withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle cramping or nausea, with medications specific to those purposes or over-the-counter remedies, such as ibuprofen.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on ecstasy addiction.

IV. Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction

Cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic interventions are currently the most common approaches to ecstasy or MDMA addiction. These treatments are performed in inpatient or residential settings, as well as outpatient settings. After completing rehab, many individuals find that continued individual counseling and/or participation in support groups increases their chances of long-term success with recovery.

V. Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, options such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Ecstasy Treatment Programs
SettingType of TreatmentDescriptionDurationTime Commitment
InpatientShort-Term ResidentialIntensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.14-30 daysHours Per Day:

24

Days Per Week:

7

Long-Term ResidentialIntensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.3-12 monthsHours Per Day:

24

Days Per Week:

7

Partial HospitalizationIntensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.14-30 daysHours Per Day:

6-8

Days Per Week:

5

OutpatientIntensive Day TreatmentExtensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.3-4 monthsHours Per Day:

2-4

Days Per Week:

3

CounselingBoth individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available.As long as desiredHours Per Day:

1-2

Days Per Week:

1-3

Support GroupsSupport groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours.As long as desiredHours Per Day:

1-2

Days Per Week:

1

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and, thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Ecstasy Addiction
Type of TherapyDefinition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

Further reading:

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a proven method for the treatment of many types of addictions, including substance abuse disorders as well as gambling or other lifestyle addictions.

 

It’s a common approach for MDMA abuse disorders and includes therapy — individual and group — sessions to help individuals understand the root causes of their drug abuse. CBT also helps you learn about and develop healthier coping mechanisms so you can avoid drug use in the future when faced with triggers.

Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives

 

Further reading:

Contingency management interventions involve using positive reinforcements when people stay free of drugs or take healthier actions, such as using the right coping mechanisms or attending therapy sessions. Motivational incentives may be helpful in treating ecstasy addiction in part because it addresses the pleasure system — and many people start using ecstasy to begin with for the additional pleasure it brings.
The Matrix Model

 

Further reading:

Because MDMA is similar to hallucinogens and stimulants, the Matrix Model may be an option in treating MDMA abuse disorder. This method is geared specifically toward the treatment of stimulant addiction and involves a range of treatments, including CBT, family and group therapy, and 12-step programs. The treatment is structured over 16 weeks and usually delivered in an intensive outpatient setting.

VI. How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Ecstasy Addiction

When looking for a rehab center for ecstasy addiction, you might consider looking for professionals who are experienced in treating MDMA and stimulant disorders. This is because they may need to rely on different tools than those used to treat opioid addictions, and you won’t begin with the same type of medically-assisted treatment that is relevant with other drugs.

Rehabs that offer strong aftercare planning or offer numerous opportunities for continued outpatient support may help you remain free of drugs as you move into long-term recovery after inpatient or structured outpatient treatments.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.