What Is Ecstasy
Ecstasy, also known as Molly, is a commonly-abused drug that is frequently encountered in party and rave scenes. Ecstasy is the street name for the drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). MDMA is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception. It is chemically similar to stimulants and hallucinogens. MDMA acts by increasing the activity of the brain chemicals norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
Ecstasy’s affect on these brain chemicals causes the following:
- Dopamine: Produces increased energy and acts in the reward system to reinforce behaviors.
- Norepinephrine: Increases heart rate and blood pressure
- Serotonin: Affects mood, appetite, and sleep, sexual arousal, and trust.
People who use Ecstasy typically take it in a capsule or tablet form, and many take it in combination with other drugs and alcohol. This is most often how Ecstasy contributes to overdose, which can lead to seizures and even heart failure.
Is Ecstasy Addictive
Any drug that affects the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain can be addictive. However, results from clinical studies on Ecstasy addiction vary. This does not mean that it is not possible to become addicted to Ecstasy. For many people, Ecstasy increases feelings of wellbeing, euphoria, and sociability.
These feelings themselves can become addictive. In addition to this, Ecstasy is commonly abused in combination with other drugs, such as LSD, inhalants, heroin, and marijuana. Any use of illicit drugs, such as Ecstasy, is dangerous and should be treated immediately.
According to a 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 92% of people who tried Ecstasy later turned to other, more harmful drugs. This makes Ecstasy a dangerous gateway drug to other addictions.
Signs of Ecstasy Addiction
Psychological dependence on Ecstasy is more common than physical dependence. When a person is psychologically dependent on a substance, they become obsessed with it and crave it when it is not available.
Some signs of Ecstasy addiction include:
- Reluctance to attend social or family events
- Inability to attend events or social gatherings without using Ecstasy
- Lying or secretive behavior
- Financial or legal difficulties related to Ecstasy use
- Changes in social circles
- Sudden difficulty in meeting daily responsibilities
- An inability or unwillingness to quit even when substance abuse causes serious problems
- General lack of motivation
Who Abuses Ecstasy
Ecstasy is considered a party drug and therefore is often taken by younger people. It is unwisely considered less harmful than other drugs. There is also the idea that Ecstasy is not addictive. This is false. In truth, Ecstasy, like any stimulant with potential hallucinogenic effects, can be very addictive. Ecstasy abuse is most commonly seen in college-age students between the ages of 18 and 23.
Side-Effects of Ecstasy
With Ecstasy, it can be difficult to identify signs of abuse. That’s because many people mix this drug with alcohol or with other substances, making it harder to notice the symptoms. There are a few things that reveal that an individual is struggling with Ecstasy abuse.
Side-Effects of Ecstasy include:
- Teeth grinding
- Increased thirst
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Increased stimulation in the senses, particularly touch and sight
One of the most dangerous side-effects of Ecstasy addiction is the likelihood of putting oneself in dangerous and compromising situations due to how use causes increased trust and lowered inhibitions.
Ecstasy Addiction Treatment
The first step in the treatment of Ecstasy addiction is detox. This requires removing all traces of the drug from the system by ceasing use. Once the patient stops taking Ecstasy, the brain chemicals will need to be stabilized in order to minimize uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Often, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be used to alleviate the depression, anxiety, and panic attacks that are common with Ecstasy withdrawal.
Ecstasy addiction treatment protocols typically follow the same formula as any other addictive substance. Inpatient or outpatient referral services are used depending on what works best for the individual and should be followed with participation in long-term therapy and addiction support groups.
Withdrawal from Ecstasy can be extremely unpleasant, depending on how severe the abuse or addiction was and on how long a person was using that drug. The proper withdrawal treatment and clinical support to get through the detox and withdrawal process are vital to long-term sobriety.
Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Confusion and depersonalization
- Insomnia and severe fatigue
- Irritability and mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks and paranoia
- Memory problems
- Muscle stiffness
- Hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis
Therapies Used for Ecstasy
Ecstasy addiction treatment is varied and complex and may include medication and therapy sessions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other behavioral treatment forms dictated by the healthcare professional.
Some people seeking treatment for Ecstasy addiction have found behavioral therapy to be helpful. Currently, there aren’t any specific medical treatments for Ecstasy addiction. All treatments are individually designed for each person and their needs.
Recovery from Ecstasy Addiction
Getting over an addiction to any drug is not easy. Addiction is a severe disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year.
If you or a loved one are suffering from Ecstasy addiction, get the help you need today. Get in touch with one of our compassionate treatment navigators. We are here to help you find the right tailored treatment plan for your individual needs.