MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse While Pregnant
Ecstasy is an illicit drug that is frequently abused among a young adult demographic. This drug (chemical name: 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA for short) is structurally similar to amphetamine and has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.
Effects During Pregnancy
People who take it may experience a wide range of effects, including euphoria, a sense of openness, and increased energy. However, heavy, chronic use is associated with depression and problems with memory. Among pregnant women, ecstasy can lead to hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and anorexic effects—both of which may directly affect the developing fetus 1.
When pregnant women use drugs like ecstasy, it can cause serious harm to their babies, including 2:
- Premature birth.
- Developmental issues including delayed growth.
- Cardiovascular issues (e.g., heart problems, increased stroke risk).
What If I Took Ecstasy Before I Knew I Was Pregnant?
Ecstasy is widely used by young people, including women of reproductive age. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 1.8% of young adults aged 18 to 25 years old were current users of hallucinogens, including ecstasy. Approximately 166,000 women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years old) reported past month use of the drug 3. With so many women of reproductive age experimenting with ecstasy, it is common for women to have used the substance prior to finding out they were pregnant.
If you are worried because you took it before you knew you were pregnant:
- Take a deep breath and try to relax.
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible and let them know about your concerns.
- Stop taking ecstasy and any other illicit drugs.
Ecstasy’s Effect on the Mother
One study found that women who used ecstasy during pregnancy had the following characteristics 4:
- Higher rates of unplanned pregnancy.
- Higher rates of therapeutic abortion.
- More likely to report binge drinking during pregnancy.
- More likely to report smoking cigarettes during pregnancy.
- More likely to use other illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and ketamine during pregnancy.
In addition, the use of ecstasy can adversely affect the mother’s physical and mental health. Ecstasy causes an increase in an individual’s stress hormones and this can lead to overstimulation and hyperthermia (i.e., high body temperatures). Also, after using ecstasy, a person can experience a number of changes that affect their behavior, mental state, and routine that include 5:
- Decrease in appetite.
- Trouble sleeping.
Another serious danger of using ecstasy during pregnancy is that the drug often contains adulterants. A person may think that they are taking pure MDMA when in reality they are ingesting a number of unknown chemicals. One study found that a single ecstasy tablet contained over 14 compounds other than MDMA 6. One of the most concerning adulterants is the powerful opioid fentanyl, which can be deadly even in very small doses.
When a mother is healthy and abstaining from harmful substances like ecstasy, it goes a long way to ensure the safety of the baby both in utero and after birth. If you need help for an addiction to ecstasy, give us a call today and speak to a qualified rehab placement specialist about available treatment options.
Effects on the Baby After Birth
Using ecstasy during pregnancy may have a negative impact on your child’s health after birth. Clinical studies have shown that MDMA exposure in utero in the first trimester may lead to behavioral changes down the line, such as long-term memory problems and impaired learning 1.
In addition, a handful of case studies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands found the following effects in babies who were exposed to ecstasy in utero 7:
- Increased risk of congenital defects.
- Cardiovascular anomalies.
- Musculoskeletal problems.
Some studies have also found that babies who are born to mothers who use ecstasy have increased odds of 1,5:
- Reduced birth weight.
- Alterations in gender ratio (more likely to have boys).
- Motor development delays.
- Poor milestone achievement at 4 months.
Quitting Ecstasy While Pregnant
If you are pregnant and addicted to ecstasy, the safest choice you can make for you and your baby is to seek professional treatment. In a rehab program, you can learn the skills to help you cope with stress and triggers that fuel your use. When you are pregnant, your safety and health are extremely important, and there are programs designed specifically to help ensure that you carry your baby to term in the healthiest manner possible. Give us a call today to learn more about your options for professional treatment at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers?.
If you are currently using ecstasy and you are thinking of quitting, there are ways to do it safely. Recovering from an ecstasy addiction can take time, but you do not have to do it alone. There are a multitude of treatment options that can help you learn how to address the underlying reasons for using substances.
Treatment for ecstasy addiction is often based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions. Cognitive behavioral interventions help teach individuals new skills such as how to find healthier ways to cope with life problems and how to modify negative behaviors that may have led to the development of addiction.
Treatment program options may include:
- Inpatient or residential treatment: Inpatient treatment programs typically last 30 to 90 days and allow you to live on-site while you move through treatment.
- Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment requires you to visit the facility for a set number of hours per week. You will meet with a therapist to develop a treatment plan and attend group therapy with other people who are being treated for an addiction to ecstasy.
- Luxury or executive treatment: These inpatient programs offer flexibility to work while living at the center and a number of amenities not normally available in standard residential programs.
It’s not too late to make a change that can positively influence you and your baby. Give us a call today to speak to a trained treatment support representative 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? so you can start your journey to recovery.
- Singer, L. T., Moore, D. G., Min, M. O., Goodwin, J., Turner, J. J., Fulton, S., & Parrott, A. C. (2012). One-year outcomes of prenatal exposure to MDMA and other recreational drugs. Pediatrics, 130(3), 407-413.
- National Institutes on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2013). Using Drugs When Pregnant Harms the Baby.
- Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
- Ho, E., Karimi-Tabesh, L., & Koren, G. (2001). Characteristics of pregnant women who use ecstasy (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Neurotoxicology and teratology, 23(6), 561-567.
- Singer, L. T., Moore, D. G., Fulton, S., Goodwin, J., Turner, J. J., Min, M. O., & Parrott, A. C. (2012). Neurobehavioral outcomes of infants exposed to MDMA (Ecstasy) and other recreational drugs during pregnancy. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 34(3), 303-310.
- Green, A. R., King, M. V., Shortall, S. E., & Fone, K. C. F. (2012). Ecstasy cannot be assumed to be 3, 4?methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDMA). British journal of pharmacology, 166(5), 1521-1522.
- McElhatton, P. R., Bateman, D. N., Evans, C., Pughe, K. R., & Thomas, S. H. (1999). Congenital anomalies after prenatal Ecstasy exposure. The Lancet, 354(9188), 1441-1442.