What is Ecstasy?

The origin of Ecstasy dates back to 1912when the pharmaceutical company Merck developed the drug for weight loss. During the 1950s the United States Army experimented with the drug as part of their psychological warfare. It was then used to help treat certain mental health disorders. By the 1980s Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, was being used as a club drug. The original drug was outlawed in 1985 due to severe side effects.

Today, what is called Ecstasy or MDMA is far different than the original drug. Today, drug dealers sell substances that have any number of drugs in the compound including LSD, cocaine, heroin, rat poison, caffeine etc. Incredibly, MDMA, though dangerous and powerful, is often among the ingredients in the street drug known as Ecstasy.

Ecstasy comes in pill form or in liquid form. In small doses, MDMA is a stimulant; however, used in larger quantities, it becomes a central nervous system depressant. Users of Ecstasy today run several risks because there are so many different drugs involved. The power and potency of what is being bought remains unknown. People often refer to it as the love pill because it supposedly increases color, sounds, and sensations. Most Ecstasy or MDMA provoke hallucinations. Reality is distorted. It damages one’s emotional and physical health. It is a dangerous, devastatingly addictive drug.

How does Ecstasy Work?

Ecstasy can be taken as a pill or ingested as a liquid. Once it enters the bloodstream it travels to the brain. The drug has a direct impact upon the nerve pathways that release serotonin. Serotonin is involved in the creation of mood, emotions, aggression, sleep, appetite, perception. The neurons affected are located throughout the brain and the body. They run down the spinal cord influencing movement. The action that occurs in the brain between the serotonin neurons and the receptors is primarily the same as the action of neurons that release and absorb dopamine.

Ecstasy releases serotonin levels in the synaptic spacebetween the neuron and the receptor. The drug also hinders the reabsorption of the serotonin. The result is actually a diminishment in the availability of serotonin so that normal brain function is drastically altered. There are numerous side effects that occur, some pleasurable, some negative. The effects of the street drug MDMA can wear off quickly even though the strength of the drug remains in the body.

Because of this dynamic, people will take more of the drug, known as stacking, to get the original sensation. The pleasurable sensations of the first pill will not be matched with subsequent doses, thus the need to continue taking additional doses will occur as does the rise in negative side effects. This may lead to death from an overdose. People who take Ecstasy or MDMA will usually combined the drug with other substances including alcohol. The combination of drugs and alcohol can also cause death.

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Abuse

Ecstasy is called a club drug because users are able to keep dancing, for example. The addictive nature of the drug is fairly rapid.Those who use street MDMA can experience a range of side effects:

  • Increase in sensations (color, touch)
  • Clouded thinking
  • Agitation
  • Disturbed behavior
  • Jaw clenching
  • Muscle spasms
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Verbal impairment
  • Visual impairment
  • Liver, kidney and heat failure
  • Cravings
  • Chills
  • Swelling

Long term use of Ecstasy has shown users to suffer from:

  • Nerve damage
  • Brain damage
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to learn
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Death

Signs and symptoms of Ecstasy Withdrawal

The signs of abuse will occur during Ecstasy withdrawal with intensity from the beginning of the process. The irony is that serotonin levels, which helps produce the original sensation of pleasure,is diminished with continued use. During withdrawal the lack of normal levels of serotonin produces:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions
  • Weight Loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flu like symptoms

Detox and Treatment of Ecstasy (MDMA) Abuse

There is little question that when detoxing from Ecstasy (MDMA) one should be closely monitored by a physician specializing in Addiction medicine. The withdrawal effects of the drug are intense and severe. Challenges such as hallucinations, extreme pain, psychosis,and uncontrollable cravings are to be taken seriously. Medication management for the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms should be regulated by a physician skilled in addiction pharmacology. Immediately following detox, it is strongly advised that the user go directly into comprehensive treatment.

Treatment Alternatives is proud of their comprehensive, multidisciplinary program that provides clients with a variety of therapeutic approaches to address addictive thinking, low self-esteem, childhood traumas, brain function deficits from drug use, emotional and psychological turmoil, relapse prevention, life skills, healthy recreational activities and group and individual counseling. To break addiction, one must address every aspect of one’s life. The challenges are many, but they can be met with a strong foundation for long term recovery.

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