What Is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy or MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a powerful stimulant synthetic drug that is used recreationally, most often in club or party settings. Ecstasy has psychoactive properties and produces intense feelings of euphoria, empathy, increased energy, and an increased desire for social bonding.

In pill or tablet form, it is usually referred to as ‘ecstasy’ and is likely to contain a cocktail of other substances. In powdered form, the drug is usually referred to as MDMA and is typically snorted or dabbed on the gums.

Ecstasy use is commonplace among club-goers. Statista reports that in 2019, there were over 2.5 million users of ecstasy in the U.S. in the past year. For many, it is merely another part of the weekend. Unfortunately, many users may not realize the dangers that come with frequent use. While some people can use ecstasy on occasion and not suffer any dire consequences, for others, it can become a problem.

woman comforting young adult

Ecstasy Dependence and Addiction

The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence reports that, over time, a person can become psychologically dependent on ecstasy, and the feelings of joy and social connection that the drug provides may become difficult to live without. Those who face difficulty dealing with the comedown may seek out more ecstasy to sustain their high.

According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, as a person continues to take ecstasy, they build a physical tolerance to the drug, and the potential for addiction varies between individuals. This means that more ecstasy needs to be taken to achieve the desired effects, and as more is taken, the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug. The Institute of Medicine explains that neural pathways are formed in the brain’s reward center that make a person prioritize ecstasy use over other areas of life, even personal responsibilities such as work or school.

Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Services

Addiction can be devastating. If you or someone you love has been abusing ecstasy, it is essential to seek the support and guidance of an addiction professional. At Excel, we create individually customized treatment programs to suit each client. With this tailored treatment approach, we can help those suffering from dependence or addiction to stop using the drug and safely return to a drug-free life. We also assess other problem areas in their lives that may have led to addiction in the first place.

Effects of Ecstasy

Ecstasy’s effects are extremely desirable. As outlined in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, users typically feel a combination of the following:

  • A sense of warmth
  • Increased empathy
  • Euphoria
  • Happiness
  • Distortions to sensory perception (time, colors, and textures can become abstract and fascinating)

Not all the effects of ecstasy are enjoyable. Other effects of ecstasy outlined in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Swings in body temperature
  • Paranoia
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Faintness
  • Panic attacks

An ecstasy high typically lasts four to six hours. As the drug wears off, users may experience the opposite effects of what they felt earlier. Euphoria fades and feelings of depression, and even despair, can surface. Energy levels drop significantly, and jaw pain sets in, as the drug will have made the user clench their jaw for hours. This is known as the ‘comedown’ and can last for two to three days, depending on the individual and how much ecstasy was consumed.

Dangers of Ecstasy Abuse

Abuse of ecstasy poses negative short-term and long-term health risks. Treatment is necessary to reverse some of these adverse effects and help clients cope with life without the use of the drug.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that in the days following ecstasy use, users are likely to experience:

  • Addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion

Ecstasy boosts the release and activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a greater release of serotonin and norepinephrine, according to the journal Psychopharmacology. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors. As the drug wears off, stores of these neurotransmitters are depleted, which causes the negative aftereffects that people experience. The comedown will eventually stop, and the user will return to their normal state of being.

The quality of the drug, the user’s physiology, and their current state of mental health all play a role in how long these adverse effects last

Long-Term Effects of Ecstasy Abuse

According to research published in Nuclear Medicine Communications, long-term ecstasy abuse can lead to:

  • Addiction
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • A decline in cognitive function

The longer a person misuses ecstasy, the worse their addiction will become. With prolonged, heavy use, addiction becomes more complicated to treat, which is why it is imperative to seek professional help at the earliest stages of addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Addiction

While single or occasional use of ecstasy will not inevitably lead to addiction, it is important to be aware of the signs of dependence before they develop and become a full-blown substance use disorder (SUD).

It may be helpful to consider the following signs and symptoms, if you suspect that you or a loved one may have, or is developing an addiction to ecstasy:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Thirst
  • Teeth clenching
  • Changes in social circle
  • Enhanced self-confidence
  • Decreased performance at work or school
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Preoccupation with ecstasy
  • Unusually high levels of energy
  • Promiscuity
  • Being ‘in love’ with everyone and believing everyone is their friend

At Excel, we have seen first-hand how ecstasy abuse can devastate not only a person’s life but also the lives of their loved ones. While there are similarities in the symptoms and characteristics of addiction that each person presents, we know that each client is unique.

Our treatment programs are formulated and recommended following an initial assessment, and we aim to develop an open, authentic relationship with every client. Following this consultation, we will recommend the most appropriate course of action regarding treatment. If we believe that a client would be more appropriately treated at another treatment center, we will refer the client on and arrange a prompt appointment. With the correct treatment, recovery from ecstasy dependence and addiction is possible.

Dedicated and Compassionate Recovery Specialists

At Excel, we have seen first-hand how ecstasy abuse can devastate not only a person’s life but also the lives of their loved ones. While there are similarities in the symptoms and characteristics of addiction that each person presents, we know that each client is unique.

Our treatment programs are formulated and recommended following an initial assessment, and we aim to develop an open, authentic relationship with every client. Following this consultation, we will recommend the most appropriate course of action regarding treatment. If we believe that a client would be more appropriately treated at another treatment center, we will refer the client on and arrange a prompt appointment.

With the correct treatment, recovery from ecstasy dependence and addiction is possible:

  • Detoxification and withdrawal management
  • Rehabilitation therapies and counseling
  • Comprehensive aftercare

We believe that addiction rarely occurs as a sole symptom of substance misuse. There are often underlying, undiagnosed conditions at play that contribute to the onset of addiction. During the initial assessment, our highly skilled psychologists and psychiatrists will determine whether a client is also suffering from another condition, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or unresolved trauma.

We provide clients with comprehensive and compassionate outpatient recovery services, which allow clients to continue with other aspects of their lives while still receiving treatment. With a collaborative approach to treatment, clients receive support and guidance from our team of recovery specialists, who can deliver expert psychological and medical assistance. This ensures that all aspects of recovery are taken into consideration, and clients are given the best chance at achieving lasting, successful recovery.

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