Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy is one of the most abused “party drugs” today that has gained popularity among college students during parties, raves, and concerts. It is believed that 1 out of 10 college students have used and abused ecstasy. Knowing the signs and symptoms of ecstasy addiction can help save a life and if you or someone you know is addicted to ecstasy, this article can help you with that.

What is Ecstasy?

The drug is actually the street name for an MDMA or what is known as 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is a synthetic, illegal drug that is classified as a stimulant with potent hallucinogenic properties. In some states, Molly is another name that MDMA is known for. Both Molly and Ecstasy are derived from MDMA but, between the two, ecstasy has a tablet or pill form. On the other hand, Molly is used for it’s crystal-like or white powder substance. 

Classified as a Class A drug, Ecstasy cannot be prescribed by a doctor and possession of the drug can lead to jail time with a maximum sentence of seven years, plus fines. Suppliers of Ecstasy, if caught, can have harsher penalties like life imprisonment as well as fines to pay. 

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Addiction

There are variations in the clinical viewpoints and research on how ecstasy can be addictive. Many debated as to whether or not it is even addictive at all. However, there are many students who can attest that it is addictive, but to a lesser extent when compared to other illicit drugs. While this sounds “safe”, it does not mean that the use of this drug cannot develop into a serious addiction.

Identifying a person who is addicted to ecstasy can be tricky because the drug itself lacks withdrawal symptoms compared to other drugs. Since it is mostly used by young adults in a social setting, the obvious signs and symptoms don’t really stand out. However, continued use of this drug can lead to physical and psychological dependence

One of the most common effects of ecstasy addiction is increased tolerance. This is because many users would like to achieve the same “high” that they had experienced before. The more the addict uses, the more dependent they become. Cravings can also be experienced by the user where they constantly think of using Ecstasy even after they have taken it. It has also been proven that dependent users experience the psychological effects of Ecstasy wherein they exhibit the following:

  • Severe depression
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Extreme use can also lead to altered brain chemistry which means users can lose touch with reality. Besides the psychological effects, many users also suffer from physical effects like:

  • Skin rashes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting

Long-term physical effects, on the other hand, can lead to:

  • Ataxia
  • Hemorrhage
  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiac arrest or collapse

Short-term abuse of Ecstasy may have minimal side effects, but for those who have been using ecstasy for a long time, the effects could be dangerous. Knowing the signs of ecstasy abuse can definitely help you or someone you love. 

Ecstasy users experience an increase in energy and even enhanced self-confidence. This makes them appear friendly to everybody, which is why it is the common drug of choice for socialization among many young adults. Here are some of the most common signs that someone is using:

  • They have increased positive sensations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heightened sensory perceptions or emotions
  • Increased empathy for others
  • Unusual and unnatural long-lasting energy
  • Decreased sense of pain or ability to feel
  • Risky behaviors
  • Desires to be touched or to touch
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of sleep and stays awake for days
  • Muscle tension and teeth clenching
  • Mild confusion
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoric
  • Increased engagement in sexual activities or behaviors
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Thirsty

The Dangers of Ecstasy Abuse

It has been reported that Ecstasy is one of the main reasons for many deaths and hospitalizations each year. This means that it is not as “harmless” or “safe” as many dealers would like their buyers to believe. One of the most common causes of Ecstasy-related deaths is overheating or hyperthermia. This means that the user often becomes dehydrated or overheated, causing their internal organs to stop functioning. Undiagnosed heart defects can also be triggered by the drug. If this happens, it could eventually lead to heart failure and death to the user. 

Many batches of MDMA today are found to be impure which means, dealers who sell these drugs mix them with other ingredients like heroin, cocaine, caffeine and even rat poison. That being said, it makes the side effects and potency of Ecstasy unpredictable. 

Users tend to “double-stack” the moment the effects of Ecstasy wears off. This means that they will take more in order to “re-up” the high and increase the euphoric effects of the drug. Many users do this simply because they avoid “the crash” which can result in:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation 
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness

In some cases, users become aggressive and have problems with sleeping. It also decreases their appetite and even causes problems concentrating. They also tend to be forgetful and experience severe mood swings. 

There are also immediate side effects of Ecstasy abuse. These negative side effects often happen even when the user is still under the influence or when the peak of their “high” has come down. Among these common side effects include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Lack of sleep or has trouble sleeping
  • Paranoia
  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle tension

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for ecstasy abusers. However, medical detox from Ecstasy can be done, but since Ecstasy diminishes the neurotransmitters in the brain, drugs like SSRIs are used to help during this process. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs can help reduce the anxiety, depression, as well as panic attacks, for former Ecstasy addicts by increasing the serotonin production of the brain. SSRIs help patients during their withdrawal stages.  

Ensuring a treatment plan for an Ecstasy addict is important as they could be addicted not only to ecstasy alone. Keep in mind that Ecstasy is often used alongside other drugs, so it is possible that the individual can be addicted to other substances as well. Withdrawing from Ecstasy is not as painful compared to other drugs but users are most likely to exhibit psychological symptoms than physical ones. Among these include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations

There are many levels of addiction. This is why it is important for the user to have continuous care under an inpatient rehab program. Once they have completed rehab, they can then attend outpatient programs like PHP (Partial Hospitalization Treatment Program), IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and OP (Outpatient Program). Once this is completed, they will then be evaluated by a health care professional to see if they should continue attending therapy and support groups. 

Once the addiction is evident, it may not be as easy to let go. So if you think you have an Ecstasy addiction or know someone who does, it is best to seek medical help right away. Doing so can hinder further addiction, which can be deadly in the long run.