Ecstasy addiction is one of the most common drug related problems in the United States. To understand this form of substance use disorder, it is important to learn why it is so addictive as well as the effects and signs and symptoms of the addiction that it causes.
Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a potent psychoactive drug. It belongs to the amphetamine and phenethylamine classes. The drug produces hallucinogenic and stimulant effects, which is why people seek it out before and during social events like music festivals, concerts, and parties.
While the drug is most commonly used for recreational purposes, it was explored - albeit briefly - as a therapeutic medication. At the time, psychotherapists were experimenting with it due to its potential to increase understanding and empathy in patients and study subjects. However, MDMA was criminalized in 1985.
Today, ecstasy is classified as a schedule I drug by the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration - under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government. Effectively, this means that it has no legal medical uses and carries a high potential for abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Currently, the drug is considered to be quite dangerous. One of the dangers that is associated with its use revolves around how people sell it. Generally, ecstasy is available in the form of a pressed pill. However, some drug traffickers and sellers often mix or cut it using other substances. It would be difficult for you to identify these additional substances without proper testing.
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MDMA works by changing how the major chemicals of the brain interact among themselves. When you take this drug, it will cause your brain to release norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. This can lead to an increase in the neurotransmitter activity within the brain. As a result, you will experience euphoric and pleasurable effects.
These effects that will appear immediately after using ecstasy will take place about 45 to 60 minutes after you have taken the drug. Although the size of the dose you take will have an impact on the time period that it takes for effects to occur, you can be sure that these effects will last for anywhere between 4 and 5 hours.
As an ecstasy user, you might interpret this as less risky especially when you compare the drug to other hallucinogens, such as LSD (acid) or psilocybin mushrooms. This is because the latter will produce effects that last for considerably longer.
Although this drug is seen as less risky or even much safer for young adults, it is important to realize that it is dangerous, addictive, and even lethal in some cases. For this reason, you should stop abusing it as soon as possible - preferably with the help for an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility.
Although MDMA produces some desirable and even pleasurable effects that occur immediately after you use it, there is also a high risk that you may experience a number of other side effects - some of which might not be all too pleasurable. They include but are not limited to:
After your body metabolizes ecstasy, you may experience a come down. This will be comprised of the negative side effects that arise from using this drug. These negative effects include:
These effects will result from the impact of the drug on your brain. Effectively, the substance will case your brain to artificially release certain chemicals that will produce sensations of happiness and euphoria. After that, however, you will experience an unnatural shortage of these chemicals.
When serotonin is available in lower levels in the brain, it will often cause you to feel depressed or even sad. For this reason, you need to realize that MDMA can produce significant physical side effects as well as have a negative effect on your psychological health and wellness.
However, recreational ecstasy use can - by its nature - make it difficult for you to realize that you are struggling with a substance use disorder or ecstasy addiction. In the course of taking this drug, you may use other substances at the same time. These include but are not limited to alcohol and cocaine. These additional substances may present their own unique symptoms which could potentially mask your underlying tolerance to and dependence on MDMA.
One of the main signs of being addicted to this drug is that you will continue using it persistently and in an escalating manner even though you have started struggling with economic, social, or even legal consequences.
You may also be addicted if you continue seeking it out and using it even after it has caused you to lose your job, spend time in jail, and suffer problems in your relationships with friends, family, and loved ones.
It is important to understand the various signs and symptoms of ecstasy addiction and abuse. This is because it can help you realize if you have or a loved one has been struggling with this problem. Some of these signs include:
MDMA is responsible for thousands of hospital and emergency room visits as well as deaths every year. This is proof enough that the drug is not as safe or harmless as many drug dealers would have you think.
However, overheating or hyperthermia is one of the leading causes of death linked with this drug. Since you will typically take it at night clubs or raves, there is a high risk that you may overheat or become dehydrated. When this happens, it will cause your organs to stop working normally especially if you leave the condition untreated.
In other cases, the effects of this drug could aggravate heart defects - especially if these defects are undiagnosed. Over time, this could cause heart failure. For this reason, it is important that you seek treatment for your ecstasy addiction as soon as possible.
Most of the negative side effects - both short term and long term - linked with this substance arise from taking it. Some of them are also linked to the fact that drug dealers often cut ecstasy with other chemicals, which range from heroin or cocaine to rat poison and caffeine. This is why it might not always be possible to predict the exact effects of a MDMA pill.
Once the peak effects of the drug have started dissipating, you may double stack or re-up. This means that you will take more of the substance to increase its effects and cause a peak in the euphoric effects that it produces.
You will probably do this to avoid the crash that results in feelings of impulsivity, agitation, irritability, exhaustion, fatigue, depression, and anxiety when the initial pleasurable effects of ecstasy start wearing off.
In some cases, you may even become aggressive or start struggling with difficulty concentrating, memory loss, a decrease in appetite, and insomnia. Using this drug repeatedly can also interfere with the normal chemical composition of the brain, which could cause severe mood swings.
Other dangerous effects of taking ecstasy include:
According to the Clinical Correlations journal, using MDMA in the long term can cause several other significant cognitive issues. These include but are not limited to difficulties with emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, problem solving, and executive processing. You may also suffer overall mental dysfunction.
If you have been taking ecstasy on a regular basis, you may also have trouble with emotional regulation. Further, there is a risk that you might not be able to feel pleasure without the drug. Other unfortunate results of using this drug include suicidal actions, behaviors, and thoughts.
If you are struggling with ecstasy addiction, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug. These symptoms will arise because your brain and body would have developed dependence on the substance. Without it, you will not be able to feel normal. Instead, you will develop these symptoms, some of which might be quite painful and difficult to manage.
Trying to stop abusing the drug without any medical intervention might not necessarily cause you to suffer any significant health problems. However, going through a medically supervised detoxification process could help to alleviate some of the main withdrawal symptoms that are associated with ecstasy, which may include:
There are different form of treatment and rehabilitation available for ecstasy addiction and abuse. However, it is generally recommended that you enroll in an inpatient rehab program.
Once you complete detox, you will receive inpatient care in a controlled environment away from the presence of and abuse of drugs like ecstasy. After you have gone through this process, you may have to continue with treatment on an outpatient basis to ensure that you do not relapse.
It is also important that you continue meeting with individual therapists and counselors even after you have been through an inpatient addiction treatment program. This is because the therapy services offered can help you deal with the negative symptoms linked to coming off this drug - such as anxiety and depression.
Some of the therapists will use cognitive behavioral therapy, which will teach you how to find the connections between your actions, feelings, and thoughts. It can also help you increase your awareness of how these factors can have an impact on your recovery.
That said, ecstasy addiction treatment will almost always come with different levels of care known as a continuum of care. In many cases, you will first have to go through medically supervised detox to manage the withdrawal symptoms that arise when you first give up this drug.
After you have managed these symptoms, you can proceed to an inpatient rehabilitation program before progressing over time into an outpatient program - such as a regular outpatient program, an intensive outpatient program, or a partial hospitalization program or a day treatment program.
When you have completed the rehabilitation programs that were recommended by ecstasy addiction treatment professionals, you can still continue working on ensuring your long term recovery by seeing a therapist, attending support group meetings, or checking into a sober living facility.