What is Ecstasy Addiction?
Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a psychoactive drug that produces feelings of increased pleasure, emotional warmth, and energy. This drug, known for its energetic highs, carries a significant potential for abuse and can cause withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, and depression when quit abruptly.
Ecstasy comes in tablet form, which users often crush into a powder so the drug can be smoked, snorted or injected. While already addictive in tablet form, powdered ecstasy can deliver an even more enhanced effect and so increase the drug’s overall addictive effect.
Popular within the party scene, often being used at clubs, music festivals, and raves. Ecstasy can alter your mood, distort your sense of time, and heighten your awareness of surrounding objects and conditions. The effects of ecstasy usually last between three and six hours and can produce psychological symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, and depression when used regularly for at least one week.
Using ecstasy long-term can change the brain in ways that increase the risk for depression and mental illness, as well as ecstasy addiction. Before the DEA defined ecstasy as having no accepted medical use in 1985, the drug was commonly used as a diet aid. But ecstasy is an illicit substance that can have dangerous effects including liver, kidney, and heart failure, and death.
Risks of Ecstasy Addiction
Ecstasy increases the activity of three brain chemicals called dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine causes increased energy levels and feelings of euphoria, while norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and hormones, and drives the pleasurable effects of ecstasy such as elevated mood, empathy, and emotional intimacy.
Using ecstasy regularly can cause the brain to produce higher levels of these brain chemicals. When someone becomes physically dependent on ecstasy, the brain can stop producing these chemicals naturally on its own. When a person quits using ecstasy, their brains may no longer provide the amount of these chemicals needed to achieve general feelings of happiness and pleasure.
After a person overcomes dependence on ecstasy, the brain may take between several months and years to rebalance and start producing normal amounts of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Patients recovering from ecstasy addiction often need long-term therapy to cope with psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety after becoming sober.
Side Effects of Ecstasy Addiction
As brain tolerance levels continue to rise, growing physical dependence on ecstasy starts to take root. When the brain becomes physically dependent on ecstasy, it can no longer carry out standard bodily functions without needed supplies of ecstasy. Bodily functions most affected include:
- Heart function
- Respiratory function
- Emotional stasis
- Body temperature regulation
- Movement and coordination
Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms start to develop when needed amounts of the drug are lacking.
For many people, ecstasy withdrawal symptoms may take the form of:
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle twitches
- Muscle tension
- Muscle aches and pains
- Depression symptoms
- Bouts of anxiety
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to experience joy and contentment
- Feelings of rage
- Confused thought processes
- Intense drug cravings
Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms become most pronounced when detoxing off the drug. For chronic and long-term users, withdrawal symptoms continue to increase in intensity and frequency as brain chemical levels skew further and further out of sync.
Signs of Ecstasy Addiction
A person who suffers from ecstasy addiction will usually change their behavior in ways that make ecstasy use a priority. They may withdraw from their closest friends and family and lose interest in their favorite hobbies and activities. Ecstasy addiction can lead to decreased performance at work or school, and to financial problems as a result of spending an excessive amount of money on drugs.
Lifestyle symptoms of ecstasy addiction have more to do with changes in a person’s behaviors and daily routines. Lifestyle symptoms may take the form of:
- Declining health
- Poor Concentration
- Cravings and withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not taken
- A decline in appearance/personal hygiene
- Financial difficulties
- Relationship problems
- Change in social circle (abandoning old friends to spend time with other drug users)
- Isolative behavior
- A decline in work performance
- Job loss
- Legal problems
Consider whether your loved one is exhibiting any behaviors that can indicate they might be struggling with ecstasy addiction. Spending more time with new friends or following a new routine can indicate ecstasy addiction, as well as frequent, unexplained mood swings and neglect in personal hygiene and appearance.
What to do is Someone You Love is Abusing Ecstasy?
If you suspect someone is abusing ecstasy, it is important to help them find a treatment center for their addiction. Ecstasy addiction affects many Americans but can be safely treated at a drug rehab center using detoxification, behavioral therapy, and other therapies aimed at helping you or your loved one overcome addiction as a whole.
You can set up an intervention with a doctor or addiction specialist if your loved one is in denial about their addiction. But the best chance at recovery comes from a patient being accepting of their addiction and desiring to be sober.
Treatment Options Available for Ecstasy Addiction
Ecstasy addiction treatment entails addressing the physical and psychological damage caused by long-term drug use. As breaking the body’s physical dependency on the drug becomes an essential first step towards recovery, detox treatment marks the starting point for anyone wanting to break free of ecstasy addiction.
After a medical detox, people overcoming ecstasy addiction require ongoing guidance and support to overcome the drug’s hold over their psychological well-being. Unlike the many medical therapies used in opiate addiction treatment, no known medications exist to support the type of brain deterioration brought on by chronic ecstasy use. For this reason, many ecstasy addiction treatment options work to help patients overcome the psychological effects of the drug.
Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab
Ecstasy addiction can be effectively treated in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, though inpatient programs that last a minimum of 90 days are recommended to help patients overcome the psychological symptoms of ecstasy use.
An inpatient rehab center allows patients to live at the recovery center while going through detox and receiving therapy to overcome psychological symptoms. Benefits to choosing inpatient rehab for ecstasy addiction include getting help with setting a new daily routine, and attending daily therapy sessions that treat mental health disorders, offer relapse prevention education, and teach healthy ways to manage stress.
An outpatient rehab center is often ideal for patients who must recover from ecstasy addiction while also going to work or school, or caring for a family. Patients can attend daily or weekly therapy sessions while living at home and maintaining a sense of independence. An addiction counselor can work with patients to determine which program will work best for them based on the status of their ecstasy addiction and other health and lifestyle factors.
Patients in recovery must continue to fine-tune their relapse prevention strategy, so they remain prepared for anything life brings. Ecstasy aftercare treatment focuses on helping patients employ learned prevention strategies on a daily basis. In the process, regular support group meeting attendance and ongoing psychotherapy work to keep a person plugged into the principles and practices that make a drug-free existence possible.