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MDMA Therapy

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Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

What is MDMA? 

MDMA is an addictive drug, also known as ecstasy or sometimes as ‘molly’. Depending on the dose taken, it can act as a stimulant that speeds up the central nervous system, or it can be hallucinogenic with dissociative properties. At present, MDMA is illegal and available only with special permission from the government because one may overdose, which can be fatal.

Is MDMA addictive?

Research has shown that it is likely for an MDMA abuser to develop tolerance to ecstasy, but the MDMA withdrawal symptoms are mild and mostly psychological rather than physical. When withdrawal symptoms are not severe, it suggests that physical dependence on the substance is improbable, and therefore MDMA may not necessarily be categorized as addictive. Still, one should seek professional guidance if addicted, as the psychological withdrawal symptoms are difficult to manage otherwise. To learn whether MDMA is a hard or soft drug, read our online resource on this topic.

The Immediate Effects of MDMA or Ecstasy

MDMA releases dopamine in the brain, the hormone responsible for pleasurable feelings. The short-term effects of MDMA are mainly:

  • heightened senses
  • a feeling of happiness, euphoria, and calm
  • fewer inhibitions, and therefore more friendliness, energy, self-awareness, and empathy.

These effects are usually felt for 3-5 hours after ingesting the drug. Still, they can last up to eight hours depending on several different factors including the dose and method of administrating the drug, gender, and body weight. The ’crash’ period after the short-term effects of MDMA wear off can last for a few days.

How Long Does MDMA Stay in Your System?

MDMA’s half-life is typically 8-9 hours. This is how long it takes the body to eliminate half of the substance.

Different factors can affect how long MDMA stays in your system. These factors include:

  • Method of consumption
  • Frequency of use and dose
  • Body type
  • General health
  • Metabolism and more


Lately, it's become clearer that there's a significant link between MDMA and PTSD urging us to explore the connections and potential therapeutic benefits. Join Avenues Recovery, experts in addiction recovery, as we explore: How does MDMA help PTSD, and what is MDMA therapy used for in addressing mental health challenges?

What is PTSD?


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition diagnosed in people who have been through a traumatic incident such as experiencing abuse, violence or bullying, an accident, watching someone being hurt or killed, surviving a natural disaster, losing a loved one, and other difficult circumstances.

It can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist when one experiences some or more of the following: 

  • Disturbing and vivid flashbacks and nightmares
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Unjust guilt and blame directed to oneself as the cause of the traumatic incident
  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Avoiding any circumstance that may trigger distressing memories
  • Being easily startled 
  • Having trouble concentrating or sleeping. 

These symptoms must occur often and over a long period to be classified as PTSD.

At present, there are no medications that can treat PTSD completely, although there are different medications that can cure some of the disturbing symptoms, in addition to CBT and talk therapy. An estimated 1 in 11 people will experience some form of PTSD in their lifetime.

MDMA Therapy for PTSD

Since 2017, the FDA has reported that MDMA could be used to assist in treating PTSD symptoms. This is because when administered safely in a clinical setting, it could relax and open a person to discussing and constructively dissecting the traumatic event, thereby removing the trauma.

At the moment, there are studies and research taking place in the US, Canada, and Israel, led by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).In one particular study, subjects were separated into two groups, with some receiving MDMA and the others a placebo. This was administered over two 8-hour sessions, each about 3-5 weeks apart, together with weekly therapy sessions. When they checked in with the participants at a 2-month check-up, 67% of the ones in the MDMA group no longer fit the criteria for PTSD, compared with 32% of participants in the placebo group. These results were consistent even close to four years later.

How Does MDMA-Assisted Therapy Work?

A safe dose of MDMA increases oxytocin and prolactin which are hormones that help with trust and bonding. MDMA also reduces anxiety and fear and causes a relaxed and open feeling. This can greatly enhance the therapeutic process for PTSD therapy because the patient can then revisit the traumatic event and discuss it, without being triggered, and inhibited, by the negative feelings associated. Additionally, one of the classic symptoms of PTSD includes avoiding memories of the traumatic event. MDMA therapy can help to bring back the memories and relive them, in a non-stressful, anxiety-free way.

There have been reports that all participants in the studies benefitted in some way from the MDMA therapy. It is not a cure for PTSD but it can assist in the therapeutic process, helping to relieve some of the symptoms.

FDA Approval for MDMA in PTSD Treatment

MDMA-assisted therapy is being explored as a promising treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In controlled settings, MDMA has shown effectiveness without adverse effects, even for those with additional conditions like depression or substance use disorders.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a New Drug Application (NDA) for MDMA capsules, which, when used alongside psychological intervention, could be approved for treating PTSD. Currently, MDMA-assisted therapy is in the priority review stage. If approved, MDMA could be the first psychedelic authorized for mental health treatment in the US. Such approval may also influence other countries to consider similar measures.

MDMA Therapy: Conclusion

The potential use of MDMA to assist in treating PTSD is promising. This form of treatment may become legal in the US once more research is uncovered. It is vital to remember that it must be practiced in a safe, clinical setting with trained medical professionals to ensure the effectiveness and safety of MDMA- assisted therapy for PTSD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction related to MDMA or any other substance, there is help available. Reach out to Avenues Recovery, a reputable rehab center providing support and resources for addiction recovery. Remember, you don’t have to face this journey alone. 

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