Treatment for Ecstasy Abuse

Ecstasy is a powerful synthetic drug that can induce stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. The drug is often included with GHB, LSD, ketamine, and methamphetamines in the informal category of club drugs. Ecstasy is actually a slang term for MDMA, which is an abbreviation for the full chemical name of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is also often referred to as XTC, X, and molly. Ecstasy most commonly appears as a capsule or pill, and is typically ingested by being swallowed.

When a person swallows an ecstasy capsule or pill, he or she will experience a dramatic increase in energy and arousal as well as significantly improved mood. People who abuse ecstasy also report an increased capacity for empathy and emotional openness. These effects are the result of ecstasy’s ability to interact with receptors in the central nervous system in a way that triggers and prevents the reabsorption of a flood of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The initial release of these neurotransmitters produces the elevations in mood, energy, and arousal, while the blocking of their reabsorption extends the duration of these pleasurable effects.

Though the immediate impact of ecstasy abuse involves positive emotions and pleasurable sensations, the drug is far from harmless. The drug’s ability to alter one’s perceptions and degrade one’s ability to make healthy decisions can put a person in immediate danger of myriad negative outcomes, including injuries due to impaired coordination, exposure to sexually transmitted infections, and grievous harm resulting from polysubstance abuse. Continued abuse of ecstasy increases both the risk of negative effects and the potential severity of those effects.

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Statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) about 7% of adults aged 18 and above in the United States have abused ecstasy at least once in their lives. Within the adult population, ecstasy abuse is most common among those in the 18-to-26 demographic, 13% of whom have reported abusing ecstasy at least once in their lives. NIDA also reports that about 1.3% of the adult population has abused a hallucinogen, most commonly ecstasy or LSD, in the previous 30 days. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that in the half-decade between 2005 and 2010, annual ecstasy-related visits to emergency rooms rose by more than 240%.

Causes and Risk Factors for Ecstasy Abuse

Decades of research indicates that the following are among the more common genetic and environmental precursors to drug abuse and chemical dependency:

Genetic: According to the APA, studies suggest that genetics may be responsible for a variance of between 26% and 79% in the development of other hallucinogen disorder, which is the clinical term for a dependence upon MDMA and certain other drugs. Being genetically predisposed to engaging in risk-taking behaviors may also increase the likelihood that a person will abuse ecstasy.

Risk Factors:

  • Being a young adult (between the ages of 18 and 26)
  • Access to ecstasy
  • Prior abuse of other hallucinogens
  • Early use of alcohol and tobacco
  • Associating with peers who abuse ecstasy and/or other hallucinogens

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Abuse

A person who exhibits the following signs and symptoms may be abusing ecstasy:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Devoting significant time to acquiring, using, and recovering from ecstasy
  • Using ecstasy after having already experienced negative effects from prior use
  • Using ecstasy in situations where it is clearly dangerous to do so
  • No apparent need for sleep
  • Acting with extreme energy
  • Acting with excessive empathy

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea and chills
  • Problems with vision
  • Clenching teeth
  • Unintentional weight loss

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Vertigo
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and/or touch
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Lack of inhibition
  • Anxiety
  • Enhanced sense of self-worth and/or self-confidence
  • Excessive friendliness
  • Heightened sexual arousal
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Ecstasy Abuse

Ecstasy abuse can lead to several negative effects and outcomes, including the following:

  • Depression
  • Severe memory problems
  • Dental damage from grinding teeth
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Physical harm due to impaired judgment and/or impaired perception
  • Family discord
  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Diminished academic performance
  • Substandard occupational performance
  • Job loss
  • Unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Arrest and incarceration

Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals who have been engaging in the long-term abuse of ecstasy may also be at increased risk for several co-occurring mental health disorders, including the following:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Other substance use disorders

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of ecstasy withdrawal: Depending upon the degree and severity of ecstasy abuse that a person has been engaging in, attempting to stop or significantly reduce the amount of ecstasy that he or she uses can cause the onset of several distressing withdrawal symptoms, including the following:

  • Intense cravings for ecstasy
  • Agitation
  • Powerful headaches
  • Stiffened muscles
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions
  • Depersonalization

Effects of ecstasy overdose: Taking ecstasy in a quantity or of a potency that overwhelms the body’s ability to safely metabolize it can lead to the following overdose symptoms. Anyone who exhibits these symptoms after ingesting ecstasy may be in grave danger, and should be brought to the immediate attention of a qualified healthcare provider:

  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Breathing problems
  • Retrograde amnesia
  • Hallucinations
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Why Get Treatment for Ecstasy Abuse

Continuing to abuse ecstasy without getting effective professional help to overcome this compulsion can expose an individual to myriad temporary setbacks and enduring problems, including but not limited to damage to the individual’s physical, psychological, and socioeconomic wellbeing. Every time a person abuses ecstasy, he or she puts himself or herself at risk for problems including hypertension, hyperthermia, heart damage, and kidney failure, as well as physical harm that may result from cognitive impairments and diminished inhibitions. In the aftermath of one or more experiences with ecstasy abuse, an individual may develop anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) and may also struggle with extended diminishment of cognitive capabilities, disturbed sleep patterns, and a pervasive sense of sadness and/or irritability. Individuals who continue to abuse ecstasy over an extended period of time face ever-increasing risk for mental health problems such as anxiety, paranoia, and depression, as well as possibly irreversible brain damage. People whose minds and bodies have been negatively impacted by continued untreated ecstasy abuse may find it difficult or virtually impossible to avoid problems in school, at work, and within their relationships with family members and friends.

With effective treatment, the downward spiral of continued ecstasy abuse can be transformed into the bright promise of long-term recovery. At the programs in the Sober Living by the Sea treatment network, experienced professionals have developed specialized programming that has proved effective in the effort to help men and women overcome the compulsion to abuse ecstasy. At The Landing, The Rose, and Sunrise Recovery Ranch, men and women who had previously lost control of their behaviors have learned how to resist the urge to abuse ecstasy, and have become empowered to build successful futures, free from the constraints and limitations of ecstasy abuse.

get confidential help now: (949) 612-2210 Email Us
get confidential help now: (949) 612-2210 Email Us