Understanding Ecstasy: Addiction and Treatment

Ecstasy, or MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), is a hallucinogen and stimulant and is considered a psychoactive drug. It is common among young adults at parties and clubs.

What is Ecstasy?

ecstasy-addiction-and-abuseEcstasy is a drug, usually taken in tablet form. It was formerly most common among Caucasian teens and young adults, and was often taken at “raves” or in nightclubs in order to increase the energy at parties. The drug’s reach has since broadened and many users now experiment with Ecstasy. It is also commonly referred to as “molly” which is short for “molecular.”

MDMA works on three separate chemicals in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It causes a feeling of euphoria and increases energy. It also enhances feelings of empathy and social feelings of love and closeness, as well as causes lapses in judgement in terms of sensory and time perception. This is likely due to the release of large amounts of serotonin.

The effects of ecstasy usually last 3 hours and may last as long as 6 hours. Many users take more before the effects of the first dose have worn off.

Ecstasy is often mixed with other drugs. This is part of the danger of taking MDMA, as it can be mixed with caffeine and other stimulants. It’s also often taken alongside additional drugs intentionally, including cocaine and other highly addictive substances.

The use of ecstasy is illegal, and could be deadly. MDMA is sometimes mixed or cut with other substances, some toxic, and the results can be fatal. MDMA can become addictive, as the hormones it stimulates in the brain are the same ones affected by other drugs. Abuse is very common among users of ecstasy, and inpatient treatment is urged. Users have reported dependency and a lessened response over time, resulting in increasing dosages in order to feel the same “high.” This increases the chances of overdose.

What are the risks of using Ecstasy?

Some of the risks of using Ecstasy include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Faintness
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle tension

Health Impacts

Ecstasy causes many of the same health issues as other stimulants. These can include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
    Higher body temperature
    Sweating
    Chills

  • Involuntary teeth clenching
    Faintness
    Blurred vision
    Muscle tension

In some severe cases, those with circulatory problems or heart issues may suffer from severe side effects when using ecstasy.

Occasionally, the body temperature will rise so quickly, damage to the kidneys, liver, and other vital organs can occur, leading to severe illness or death.

Many times, ecstasy is mixed with other drugs, some of which are more harmful than the MDMA itself. Poisons and other toxins may also be combined with ecstasy. Common drug combinations may include ecstasy with cocaine, heroin, bath salts, LSD, and the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

What are the warning signs that someone is using ecstasy?

Some of the warning signs that someone is using ecstasy include:

  • Being overly sensitive to external stimuli
  • Overactive or heightened sentences
  • Involuntary clenching of the teeth and jaws
  • Talking fast
  • Slurred speech
  • Jittery
  • Person is acting overly emotional and “touchy feely”
  • Uncharacteristic sexual advances or behaviors

Risk Factors

Ecstasy has a reputation for being used most commonly by teens and young adults at parties, raves, and clubs.
These are still locations in which it is used more frequently when compared to use on the streets or in individual homes. Even so, the drug is making its way into more varied locations.

 

Why is ecstasy considered a “party drug”?

Ecstasy is considered a party drug because it increases energy and creates a sense of euphoria in the mind of the user. Ecstasy also enhances feelings of empathy and “love,” causing the user to become more open to social interaction.

Due to its heavy use in party and club settings, those who frequent these places are most at risk for trying it. This would include primarily young people – teens and young adults in their twenties.

Others who may be at risk for addiction:

While it’s possible for anyone to become addicted to ecstasy, there are certain groups that are far more likely to do so than others. For instance:

  • Teens are commonly the most likely to suffer from an ecstasy addiction, because it is historically a party drug.
  • Young adults and college students are far more likely to attend raves, clubs, and campus parties as well, where drugs may be readily available.
  • Although the drug’s reach has extended in more recent years to others, primarily those who are already abusing other drugs or alcohol.

Young professionals are also more likely to experiment with ecstasy, due to it being a common drug among those who enjoy nightlife activities.

Warning Signs

There are a few warning signs that someone you love may be using ecstasy and/or other drugs. These can include

  • Being overly sensitive to external stimuli
    Overactive or heightened senses
    Involuntary teeth clenching and jaw locking
    Rapid talking, slurred speech, or jitters during conversation

  • Acting overly emotional or “touchy feely” with you or others
    Overactive or heightened senses
    Overt or unusual sexual behavior or making sexual advances toward you or others

Ecstasy Statistics

  • Individuals admitted to emergency rooms across the country have increased by more than twelve hundred percent over the years.
  • It is estimated that nearly 10 million people use Ecstasy globally.
  • In America, nearly 3 million people 12 years of age and older had reported using Ecstasy at least once in the prior year.

Treatment

Those who find themselves dependent on drugs may attempt to quit on their own, but this rarely works in the long-term. There are a few treatment options for those who want to seek help for drug use. Each has its place, and some may work better together than separately.

  • Outpatient counseling – This involves the user seeing a licensed therapist or drug counselor. He or she will discuss the motives behind using drugs to begin with, especially if the user is doing drugs as a form of self-medication to try and heal some past trauma. Counselors will also help patients navigate the world and avoid pitfalls when it comes to staying clean. Patients may attend sessions once or more per week to start, with visits lessening over time.
  • Support Groups – Support groups are good for many reasons. For one, they are often led by a therapist or counselor, which allows users to have access to trained professionals – or an individual who has battled addiction, and ceased active use. They also give them the chance to interact with other recovering addicts to share experiences, advice, and moral support for staying clean and sober.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation centers – Inpatient facilities usually implement the best of both outpatient counseling and support groups, but in a more intensive and supervised manner. Those who are addicted to drugs may find they need the added support during the early stages of recovery. Rehabilitation usually involves detoxifying from the drug use in a supervised setting where drugs cannot be accessed, followed by intensive counseling and peer support. Some facilities may also have alternative treatment options, such as nutritional therapies. Inpatient centers are usually followed up with outpatient therapy and/or support group therapy.