Using MDMA (Ecstasy) While Breastfeeding

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Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a widely used drug popular among young adults. It is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with chemical structural similarities to both methamphetamine and mescaline—capable of producing both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects in those who use it. Ecstasy can be dangerous and in some cases, it can even lead to death 1.

It almost goes without saying, but using illicit substances such as ecstasy while nursing can cause serious harm to you and your baby.


Effects on the Mother

Ecstasy use can cause a number of problems for an expecting mother, including 1:

  • Confusion.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Drug cravings.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.
  • Delusions.
  • Very severe hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Hyperthermia (dangerously overheated body).
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate).

After giving birth, should a mother be regularly experiencing the side effects of ecstasy, she may be less able to care for her child to her fullest capacity—her ability to breastfeed, as well as her milk itself, may be negatively affected.

Connect with a treatment placement specialist here to learn how to help protect your health and the health of your baby.

Does Ecstasy Transfer to Breastmilk?

Yes, ecstasy does transfer into a mother’s breastmilk. The molecular weight of the drug is low enough that it can be excreted into a mother’s milk supply 1. To avoid exposure of the baby to this harmful substance, breastfeeding mothers should avoid nursing during (and shortly after) times when they are using ecstasy.

Ecstasy Transferring to Breastmilk

Ideally, breastfeeding mothers should avoid all use of illicit substances for the health of both their own bodies and that of their babies. However, if you currently use ecstasy and are unable to stop, there are ways to reduce your baby’s exposure to the drug. (This is referred to as “harm reduction,” or strategies that reduce harm associated with drug use 2.) There are several different harm-reduction strategies when it comes to ecstasy use and breastfeeding.

If you take ecstasy and breastfeed, here are a few things to consider to minimize the risk to your baby, according to the Australian Government Department of Health 1,3:

  1. If you use ecstasy once per day (or less): You should feed your baby immediately prior to using and avoid feeding your baby from your breast again for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours after your last dose.
  2. If you use ecstasy more frequently (many times per day or in a binge): You should avoid breastfeeding during times/days in which you heavily use ecstasy. If you want to breastfeed, you can express and throw away your milk during times of heavier use.

Recommendations from some organizations are much more conservative when it comes to harm reduction. According to the Women and Newborn Drug and Alcohol Service (WANDAS), women who use amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, or heroin, should not breastfeed for 24 hours after use 4. Other recommending entities suggest waiting 24 to 48 hours after your last ecstasy use to avoid contamination of your breast milk 1.

Although these strategies can help reduce the risk of harming your child, the best way to ensure your and your baby’s safety is to speak to your doctor about your drug use and find an appropriate plan to stop using ecstasy altogether. They will be able to take into account your physical and mental health to recommend appropriate treatment or next steps.

You can also call 1-888-744-0069 to speak to a treatment advisor today to begin the process of finding a program to help you get sober and live the healthiest life for yourself and your child.


Does Using Ecstasy Harm the Baby Through Your Breastmilk?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, using ecstasy while nursing is contraindicated (meaning, it has the potential to cause harm and should be avoided) 1.

If you are currently using ecstasy and breastfeeding, you may want to consider your options for treatment to ensure that your baby grows up in a safe and nurturing household.

Stimulants (including ecstasy) are frequently abused during the postpartum period 5. The chemical makeup of ecstasy is similar to amphetamine, and although research on the direct impact of ecstasy use on breastfeeding is minimal, there is ample evidence of the harmful effects of amphetamine on breastfeeding.

Amphetamine use during breastfeeding can adversely affect the infant, leading to changes such as poor feeding and insomnia. In addition, amphetamine use during lactation may negatively impact a mother’s ability to provide the best possible care for her child 6.



Credit: TED


Addicted to Ecstasy?  

Numerous studies have documented the association between growing up with family members who have substance use disorders and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) 7.

The accumulation of these experiences can lead to a number of unwanted behavioral consequences for a child, such as 13:

  • Early initiation of alcohol use.
  • Increased risk of alcohol abuse in adulthood.
  • Higher rates of prescription drug use.
  • Lifetime illicit drug use and addiction.
  • Increased risk of suicide attempts.
  • Lifetime depression.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Risky sexual behaviors.

If you are currently using ecstasy and breastfeeding, you may want to consider your options for treatment to ensure that your baby grows up in a safe and nurturing household. There are many types of treatment to choose from, but two broad categories include:

  • Inpatient residential treatment: These programs allow you to live on-site while you progress through treatment. This is ideal if you have triggers to use ecstasy at home and you want space to dedicate yourself to your recovery goals. These programs typically last 30 to 90 days but may be longer, if necessary.
  • Outpatient treatment: These programs are structured so that you can visit a treatment facility for a predetermined number of hours per week. During your visits, you will engage in therapy and at the culmination of daily therapy, you can go about your day and return home until the next scheduled visit.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are no medications or treatment designs that specifically target or treat ecstasy dependence 8. However, substance abuse therapy in general can be effective in helping you work through your patterns of use and change your relationship to the drug. In treatment, you may participate in any or all of the following forms of therapy:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This approach helps you identify and change behaviors related to your substance use. CBT helps you cope with urges or cravings to use ecstasy so that you are no longer controlled by addiction.
  • The Matrix Model: This framework is successful in working with stimulant abusers. You will work with a therapist who serves as a teacher/coach to encourage you to engage in healthy behaviors and self-help.
  • Group therapy: During group therapy, you will have the opportunity to meet other people who are working through their addictions and share stories and tips for preventing relapse.
  • Family therapy: Family members can be incredibly important in your journey to recovery. As a new mother, family therapy can help you address and work through issues that affect you and those closest to you. In addition, you and your concerned loved ones can learn to communicate in a way that brings productive change and creates the healthiest environment for your growing child.
  • Recovery support groups: Meeting with other people who are going through recovery can be extremely helpful. In a support group, a facilitator will lead a discussion where people suffering from addiction can share their feelings and stories. This can help you to build a supportive community outside of drug use.

If you are thinking of stopping your ecstasy use, give us a call today at 1-888-744-0069 to speak to a recovery support advisor. We are available 24/7 to help you find the best treatment center to meet your needs.


References:

  1. Western Australian Centre for Evidence Based Nursing & Midwifery. (2007).Breastfeeding Guidelines for Substance Using Mothers – Literature Review.
  2. Harm Reduction International. (2016). What is harm reduction?
  3. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). Chapter 11: Psychostimulant use in pregnancy and lactation.
  4. Government of Western Australia Department of Health. (n.d.). Alcohol and drug use while breastfeeding.
  5. Steiner, E., Villen, T., Hallberg, M., & Rane, A. (1984). Amphetamine secretion in breast milk. European journal of clinical pharmacology27(1), 123–124.
  6. Bartu, A., Dusci, L. J., & Ilett, K. F. (2009). Transfer of methylamphetamine and amphetamine into breast milk following recreational use of methylamphetamine. British journal of clinical pharmacology67(4), 455–459.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Adverse Childhood Experiences.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2006). Are there effective treatments for MDMA abuse?
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Lauren worked as a Web Content Writer at Recovery Brands. Before working at Recovery Brand, she served as the Program Director for a community-based HIV/AIDS and cancer non-profit in San Francisco.

Lauren holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.

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