How to Treat MXE Drug Addiction
Methoxetamine, also known as MXE, M-ket, or Mexxy, is a synthetic drug with effects similar to that of the dissociative anesthetic ketamine. It can be inhaled through the nose, injected, or taken orally 1. It is, in fact, so similar to ketamine, that it is sometimes called “legal ketamine.”
MXE can cause users to experience altered sensory experiences, a distorted sense of reality, and a feeling of detachment from their bodies. Some users also report feeling as though they are having a ‘near-death experience.’ The effects of MXE may take up to 90 minutes to begin and can last for as long as 5 to 7 hours 1.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2011, 21.6 million people over the age of 12 were in need of addiction treatment, but only 2.3 million received the help they needed 2. Reaching out to loved ones struggling with MXE and other addictions can help reduce this gap.
How to Approach an Addict
Family and friends of those struggling with addiction to MXE can help motivate their loved ones to seek treatment. In the past, addiction professionals have encouraged taking a confrontational approach toward drug users 3; however, research has revealed that empathic and supportive approaches are more effective in getting users into treatment.
If you are concerned about a loved one’s MXE use, consider approaching him in the following manner:
- Non-judgmentally express your concerns about his use.
- Maintain a neutral tone and nonaggressive body language.
- Approach him in a familiar, private setting.
- Avoid blaming and name-calling.
- Avoid coercing him into treatment.
- Provide him with a variety of different treatment options.
- Convey that it is his choice to enter treatment.
If you do choose to employ a more confrontational approach such as by staging a properly arranged intervention, there are ways to make the experience a positive and motivating one. You may wish to get the help of a professional interventionist to make sure that the meeting is well planned, involves the right people, and is set up in the best possible way to encourage your loved one to enter a treatment program.
Once a drug user agrees to attend treatment, family members may choose to be involved in the process by attending therapy sessions, helping with necessary arrangements after rehabilitation, planning, and providing support. Family support and involvement in treatment has been shown to lead to better long-term outcomes 2.
Addiction treatment for drugs like MXE may take a variety of forms. Evidence-based treatments supported by research include the following 2:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The goal of CBT is to identify and change negative thoughts that lead to destructive behaviors, such as drug use. CBT also teaches coping skills, helps those in recovery to anticipate and avoid high-risk situations, and increases a person’s sense of control over his own behavior.
- Reward-based contingency therapy uses rewards as motivators to stay sober, especially during the early stages of recovery where the risk for relapse is particularly high.
- Twelve-step facilitation therapy aims to introduce and promote involvement in 12-step groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Therapy focuses on helping program participants work through 12 steps to recovery, while accepting that they are powerless over their addictions and surrender to a higher power (as defined by each individual).
Therapeutic approaches that support family involvement in treatment include:
- Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) assumes that drug use is reinforced in a variety of ways by environmental factors, including the family’s behavior 4. Often this involves rewarding an individual’s drug use with the family’s attention. The aim of CRAFT is instead to provide reinforcement for healthy behaviors like abstinence. CRAFT also teaches communication skills, promotes positive interactions between family members, and encourages self-care.
- Family Behavior Therapy (FBT) teaches skills to improve relations between family members and reduce substance use 2. Treatment involves setting goals, reviewing progress, and developing a reward system for when goals are reached.
Treatment for MXE addiction may take place in one or more of the following settings:
- Detox is frequently the first step in addiction treatment. The goal of detox is to rid the body of drugs and alcohol and manage any unpleasant or potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Detox may be necessary in some cases because MXE may lead to withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and depressive thoughts that may hamper one’s ability to stay sober 1.
- Treatment in a medical facility offers intensive therapy in a structured, drug-free environment. The benefits of inpatient treatment include having a living environment free from outside distractions and having access to professional support available 24 hours per day.
- Treatment outside of a medical facility offers therapy one or more times per week. This form of treatment requires relatively less of a time commitment, but can still be hugely beneficial. Formal outpatient substance abuse treatment programs meet during the day in a designated location, and afford participants greater freedom since they are not required to stay in a facility.
Recovery from MXE addiction can occur in various treatment settings and via a number of different therapeutic approaches. The type of treatment most appropriate for a person will depend on a number of factors, such as the severity of addiction and the potential presence of other substance use, mental health, or medical issues.
Is MXE Addictive?
Addiction is a chronic illness that involves continued drug use despite significant problems in a person’s life.
Drugs like MXE can be addictive because of the drug’s impact on the structure and functioning of the brain 5. Studies show that the drug may influence dopamine levels in a way similar to PCP—yet another addictive dissociative drug 6.
Early use of drugs like MXE can also permanently impact the developing brain of adolescents 5. An adolescent’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for judgment, emotions, and impulse control, continues to develop into adulthood. Using drugs like MXE during this stage of development can lead to significant and permanent negative consequences. Even though addiction poses serious problems, treatment centers are available to help you or your loved one quit. Treatment may involve many elements, for example, detox, inpatient, and outpatient care.
Am I Addicted to MXE?
You may be addicted to MXE if you experience significant problems as a result of your drug use. If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, you may be addicted:
- Have you given up activities and responsibilities that you once valued because of your MXE use?
- Do you no longer put effort into your relationships?
- Do you isolate yourself from family and friends because of your drug use?
- Have you felt shame or guilt over your MXE use?
- Do you no longer value your physical and emotional well-being?
- Have you become angry, irritable, or sad when you cannot use the drug?
- Do you experience strong negative emotions when you think about quitting?
- Have you felt that you have little or no control over your MXE use?
- Do you feel hopeless that you can stop?
What are the Signs of Addiction?
MXE users may develop an addiction even after a short period of use. Symptoms of a substance use disorder include the following 7:
- Taking larger amounts of the drug over time.
- Repeated failed attempts to cut down.
- Spending long periods of time acquiring, taking, and/or recovering from the drug.
- See more.
Tolerance may also indicate that an addiction is developing, as the user will require more and more of the drug in order to get “high”. Tolerance can be dangerous because users may continually increase the amount of drug they use and put themselves at higher risk of overdose.
Withdrawal symptoms may arise in a person who has become physically dependent on MXE. Withdrawal occurs when a person stops using the drug abruptly and begins to experience symptoms like low mood and depressive thoughts 1.
If a person is addicted to MXE, you will likely also regularly notice the signs and symptoms of intoxication, which can include euphoria, distorted sense of reality, and confusion. Learn the signs and symptoms of MXE abuse.
If you think that you may be addicted to MXE, consider seeking treatment. With the proper tools and support, you can quit and begin the road to recovery.
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- Corazza, O., Schifano, F., Simonato, P., Fergus, S., Assi, S., Stair, J., ... & Blaszko, U. (2012). Phenomenon of new drugs on the internet: The case of ketamine derivative methoxetamine. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 27(2), 145-149.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. NIH Publication No. 12–4180.
- White, W. L., & Miller, W. R. (2007). The use of confrontation in addiction treatment: History, science and time for change. Counselor, 8(4), 12-30.
- Rowe, C. L. (2012). Family therapy for drug abuse: Review and updates 2003–2010 The use of confrontation in addiction treatment: History, science and time for change.Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 59-81.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. NIH Pub No. 14-5605.
- Zawilska, J. B. (2014). Methoxetamine–a novel recreational drug with potent hallucinogenic properties.Toxicology Letters, 230(3), 402-407.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.