A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment

Usually known as ecstasy or molly, MDMA is a stimulant with hallucinogenic properties. Usually distributed as a club drug and often found in the clubbing and raving scene, MDMA is also known as a designer drug. These are substances made exclusively in laboratory settings with precursor chemicals, without the need to harvest illegal raw materials. Because it’s often sold in tablet form, it’s very difficult to determine the purity of any individual batch of ecstasy. Most pills are mixed with other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines, or powdered caffeine, as well as ketamine or synthetic cathinones (bath salts). Without proper precautions, this can easily lead to a fatal overdose. Teen ecstasy use can lead to dependence, and a variety of drastic side effects.

What Does Teen Ecstasy Addiction Look Like?

  • Ecstasy is most often found in tablet form. Some tablets are unmarked, while most carry a distinctive E, X, or cartoon figure on them. The drug works extremely quickly, entering the blood stream within 15 minutes, and lasting between 3-6 hours.
  • Ecstasy produces feelings of happiness and euphoria, a rush of energy, alertness, and sometimes, distorted senses, such as an enhanced sense of touch.  Teens may also experience a sense of being emotionally open and being extremely connected to others.  These are some of the sought-after characteristics of the high. However, ecstasy can also lead to an emotional crash, including short-lasting symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Ecstasy suppresses appetite, thirst, and sleepiness. This can be exceptionally dangerous if a person continues to take the drug without proper precautions, is mixing the drug with activities and substances that lead to dehydration (such as alcohol), or is taking the drug continuously without pause, rest, or food.
  • Though ecstasy does not create a physical dependency in the brain in the same way that some other stimulants do, teens can still become addicted to the substance. Its risks are multiplied in the presence of other drugs, including drugs used to cut or mix the tablets.

Signs of Teen Ecstasy Addiction

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

Increased blood pressure

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

Inability to maintain normal heart rhythm

Tooth and gum disease

Heart and kidney problems

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

Memory loss

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

Low mood after high

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

Brain damage

What Causes Teen Ecstasy Addiction?

Drug Use: First and foremost, it’s the drug itself that triggers addiction. But teens who have already been exposed to other drugs and are regularly engaging in drug use are more likely to struggle with a form of substance dependence, including an addiction to ecstasy. Research indicates that ecstasy may lead to adaptations in the brain’s neurotransmission in a similar way to other addictive stimulants, but to a lesser degree. Most research around MDMA has been within a controlled environment with animals, but these results are usually replicable within humans. Add to that the risk of most sources of MDMA being contaminated with other drugs, and it’s likely that addiction links back to the sheer addictiveness of the drug, either due to other substances or cross addiction.

Depression and Low Mood: Teens with undiagnosed depression or those struggling with a period of grief, loss, low mood and extreme emotional distress are more likely to seek out an effective solution, despite possible long-term consequences. MDMA not only induces low forms of hallucination, but it drastically changes and improves a person’s mood. Sometimes, people are addicted to a substance chiefly due to an emotional or psychological connection, rather than a combination of both psychological and physical factors. Encouraging that someone with prolonged periods of sadness gets help is the best course of treatment to avoid a potential form of self-medication.

Excess Stress: A teen doesn’t necessarily have to be feeling blue to consider turning to drugs as a way to deal with life. If it isn’t a matter of availability or depression, then it’s often simply excess stress contributing to the choice of using drugs, especially stimulants like ecstasy. While not as potent as other stimulants, ecstasy can still be abused as a way to motivate and improve productivity. Some teens start out microdosing MDMA as a nootropic drug (to increase cognition or motivation), sometimes taking more after the initial boost wears off.

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Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu


of individuals aged 12 or older have had ecstasy at some point in their lifetime


of teens under 18 have reported having taken ecstasy at some point


of 18-25-year-olds have tried ecstasy – more than any other age group

How Can I Help My Teen with Ecstasy Addiction?

Help them better manage their responsibilities – most teens struggle with growing up, because it’s never an easy process. Being saddled with responsibility is an important part of maturing, but in their struggle to adjust and find their own path, many teens might seek out alternative solutions with long-term consequences and risks that they either hadn’t foreseen or might have willfully ignored in the face of overwhelming short-term benefits. That’s part of being a teen – when we’re young, we’re less capable of calculating risks and assessing situations. But as a parent, you can help your child better navigate their responsibilities and challenges, without straying too far the straight and narrow path.

Seek out further recovery options together – recovery is a process that never necessarily ends, and addiction continues to be a risk for those exposed to it, especially early in life. Continuously working on maintaining sobriety should always be important to teens who have struggled with addiction at some point in their lives. As a parent, helping your teen find other recovery options past rehab and group meetings can be beneficial. If your teen wants to seek out a new or alternative form of therapy, such as music or art therapy, supporting them can go a long way.

Consider family therapy – while time does heal many wounds, if there’s a rift in the family, waiting for it to close usually isn’t an option. If you and your teen are on shaky terms, restoring some trust between the two of you is very important. Family therapy can help you work things through with your teen and find out how you can best help your teen continue on the right path after rehab.

What Types of Treatment Are Available for Teen Ecstasy Addiction?

Ecstasy addiction is treated with a focus on individual, face-to-face therapy, as well as access to a drug-free environment resplendent with services and amenities catering specifically to recovery-focused goals, such as improving skills, finding new hobbies, mending and finding new relationships, and learning more about addiction and how it develops. A combination of talk therapy, group therapy, and residential treatment is best.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy differs in effectiveness as well as method, from teen to teen and therapist to therapist. The general goal of talk therapy is to help teens overcome the psychological effects of long-term addiction, as well as help them prepare for a sober life after having gone through weeks, months, or years being addicted to drugs. While many of the negative neurological effects of drug use do pass or diminish over time, the psychological effects must be specifically addressed. Drug use can leave a person feeling more prone to sadness and depression, anxiety, and paranoia, as well as thoughts of self-harm, self-loathing, and suicide. Many who have a history of addiction early in their lives are faced with life-long stigma, as well as a self-deprecating attitude. To help teens regain their self-confidence and affirm their commitments to a new and sober life, therapists need to find the best possible approach. This can differ from person to person.

Group Therapy

While individual therapy sessions best address unique issues, group therapy can help teens find an outlet to discuss their feelings and experiences with others who have been in similar situations. Teen drug use is sadly quite common, and many teens struggle with addiction. Some are more successful than others in their recovery, and group therapy can also be a way to help others see that it’s possible to recover, and it’s possible to continuously make progress against addiction over time.

Residential Treatment

A drug-free environment is important for the process of recovery. While learning to live a sober life despite the temptations of drug use is a big and crucial step, it’s best to go through early sobriety in an environment where drugs simply are not an issue. Residential treatment centers help teens through the early stages of recovery, preparing them for the road ahead. Some facilitate therapy, while others offer the services of affiliated medical professionals, or recommend doctors and other treatment centers in the surrounding area.

Teen Ecstasy Addiction Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

Here at Paradigm Malibu, the first step in our residential teen ecstasy addiction treatment is to help teens get off of the substance and begin detoxing, as soon as possible. Residential treatment allows for this step to take place in a safe, controlled environment, where teens can be overseen and supported, each step of the way, assuring their physical safety and promoting their overall well-being.

Therapy for Addiction

While supporting teens to stop their ecstasy use, therapists work with them to address the causes and factors that contribute to an addiction. We work with teens to uncover and address these issues through a number of techniques, specially designed and applied as per the individual needs of each teen. Throughout a number of approaches within the scope of talk therapy, therapists help teens to understand their dependency, identify causes that led to their use, and begin rebuilding a healthier state of mind, and a healthier body.

Group therapy sessions are also implemented during teen ecstasy addiction treatment, including family therapy sessions. Group therapy can often help teens feel understood and supported by their peers, while also learning to accept and not judge others, including themselves. This can be a profoundly helpful step toward recovery. Family sessions are also helpful, especially in helping build healthy boundaries while addressing common communication flaws between family members.

It Takes a Village

Paradigm Malibu is a treatment center for teens struggling with different conditions, some of whom share similar problems and circumstances, but are each unique in terms of the challenges they face and issues they have to overcome. However, by helping several teens at a time, we also take advantage of the positive effects that come from bringing teens together to work on each other. Particularly in cases of addiction, it can be difficult to trust oneself, let alone others. Rebuilding trust, developing social abilities, and collectively working on different issues together – these are all part of the treatment process.

“ After a year of unpredictable ups and downs, regular therapy, out patient treatment, home schooling, trying everything possible to help my son, researching, calling and visiting numerous residential treatment centers, I visited Paradigm and found our solution. “

– Linda.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Ecstasy Addiction

What are the chances of full recovery for my teenager?

There are no concrete stats that might prove useful to any given parent, because every case is unique. Addiction isn’t typically treated with a single course of treatment, or a single prescribed medicine. It takes a multimodal approach, and success is dependent on countless factors.

Success itself is also hard to define. A teen may be able to remain sober and happy for years, but something later in life may trigger a relapse, requiring additional treatment. Is success measured in time? Or feeling? Or something else? A “full recovery” may be the wrong way to approach addiction treatment. The goal of any treatment is to prevent the recurrence of symptoms that often lead parents and teens to seek out help in the first place: uncontrollable drug use, unavoidable and severe consequences as a result of substance abuse, and physical and neurological side effects from long-term ecstasy use.

This is for sure: at Paradigm, we strive to provide the right environment for recovery, as well as the resources needed to fully support teens in recovery. We also hope to provide you, as parents, and any other close family members involved, with resources and support so that you can work together to help your teen succeed.

I’ve heard that MDMA is not actually harmful. Is this true?

Like most drugs, MDMA has desirable as well as undesirable effects. As of now, it is not medically-approved for any existing course of treatment, for any disorder or disease. While there have been attempts to legitimize its use in the treatment of post-traumatic stress and other forms of psychotherapy, it will take until 2021 at the earliest before MDMA may be approved as a drug for psychiatric use. Until then, any MDMA sold illegally is likely to be laced or mixed with other drugs and is thus not true MDMA. Ecstasy and molly are street drugs, designed for a high. They’re not meant to treat anything, and thus do more harm than good.

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