MDMA Addiction & Treatment
Research hasn’t definitively answered whether MDMA is addictive, although it affects many of the same neurotransmitter systems in the brain that are targeted by other addictive drugs.
Experiments have shown that animals will self-administer MDMA—an important indicator of a drug’s addictive potential—although the degree of self-administration is less than some other addictive drugs, such as cocaine. Data from both humans and animals suggest that regular MDMA use produces adaptations in the serotonin and dopamine systems that are associated with substance use disorder and related behaviors, such as increased impulsivity.
Few studies have attempted to assess MDMA addiction or dependency among people with a history of use in the general population. Studies that have been conducted have shown widely varying results, likely because of the different population samples and different types of measures used. Some people who use MDMA do report symptoms of addiction, including continued use despite negative physical or psychological consequences, tolerance, withdrawal, and craving.
Treating MDMA Use Disorders
The most effective current treatments for patients with an MDMA use disorder are cognitive behavioral interventions that are designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors, and to increase skills in coping with life’s stressors. Recovery support groups may be effective in combination with behavioral interventions to support long-term recovery.
Although there are currently a number of medication targets that show promise in animal models and in some early clinical trials, there are currently no FDA-approved medications to treat MDMA use disorder.