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Ecstasy, which is also known as MDMA or 3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine is a synthetic substance that acts to alter perception (or awareness of surrounding conditions and objects) and mood.
To a large extent, this substance is chemically similar to hallucinogens and stimulants. This is because it causes a distorted time and sensory perception, and leads to feelings of emotional warmth, pleasure, and increased energy.
When it first hit the market, ecstasy was mostly popular at raves (all night dance parties) and in the nightclub scene. Today, however, the substance affects a larger segment of the general public, with some people referring to it as Molly or Ecstasy.
Understanding Ecstasy Use
People who use ecstasy typically take it in the form of a tablet or capsule. Some of them, however, will swallow the drug in its liquefied form while others will snort the powder.
On the street, MDMA is sometimes known as Molly (the slang for molecular). This is because of the supposedly purer crystalline powder form of the drug that is typically sold as capsules. However, users who buy the capsules or powder that is sold as Molly may end up getting other drugs - including bath salts or synthetic cathinone.
Other users abuse the drug by combining it with other intoxicating and mind altering substances - such as marijuana and alcohol. By so doing, they only increase the risk of suffering an overdose and other adverse effects arising from the combination of drugs.
Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that comes with complex effects that are similar to both mescaline hallucinogens and methamphetamine stimulants.
On the street, MDMA is also known by a variety of names, including but not limited to:
- Scooby snacks
Consider the following effects of abusing ecstasy:
a) Short Term Effects
One of the short term effects of ecstasy is that it will suppress certain key basic physical needs, including sleep, drinking, and eating. This is because the drug primarily acts as a stimulant.
Usually taken in tablet or pill form, MDMA might also come with numerous undesirable effects in the short term - including thermoregulation issues (that could result in elevated body temperature) and transient hypertension.
Therefore, shortly after you take it you could experience various effects arising from the combination of the hallucinogenic and stimulant properties of ecstasy. Some of the desired effects that arise - and which begin in about 30 minutes and continue for close to 6 hours - may include:
- Perceived increases in levels of energy
- Distorted sense/perception of time
- Desire for and higher pleasure from physical touch
- Higher levels of sexual arousal and sexuality
- Elevated alertness
- Increased focus and energy
While high on the effects of ecstasy, you might also feel increased empathy and emotional peace. Many users, while recounting the experience of being high on this drug, report a perceived change in space and time as well as in their overall sense of touch.
As we mentioned earlier, ecstasy might also suppress basic physical needs like sleeping, eating, and drinking. As a direct result, you might find yourself at a contemporary rave party or music/dance festival exceeding anywhere between 24 and 48 hours because you won't need to sleep, eat, or drink anything.
b) Long-Term Effects
Although scientists and addiction specialists are still researching the long term effects of ecstasy abuse, regular users tend to share certain traits. In 1998, for instance, a study showed that some users suffered permanent damage to the serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain.
Today, researchers believe that MDMA causes serotonin to flood the brain when you use it. As a result of the overproduction of this neurotransmitter, you might suffer damage.
On the other hand, the levels of serotonin in the brain naturally affect emotional, sleep, and learning processes. Therefore, when you suffer such damage, you might be left severely impaired.
Additionally, when these neurotransmitters don't function properly, you also have a higher likelihood of suffering other conditions like memory loss, insomnia, anxiety, and depression - conditions that can be present long after you stop abusing ecstasy.
c) Ecstasy Side Effects
Ecstasy is like any other drug in the sense that it can produce unexpected - and sometimes dangerous - side effects, including but not limited to:
- Blurry eyesight
- Cold chills
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Cramping in muscles
- Feeling Nauseous
- Hot sweats
- Clenching the jaw and mouth
MDMA works by increasing the level of activity of the following brain chemicals:
This chemical causes increased activity and energy as well as surges in euphoria.
On the other hand, norepinephrine increases blood pressure and heart rate, effects that are particularly risky for anyone with blood vessel and heart problems.
Serotonin affects mood, sleep, appetite, and other basic functions. It can also trigger the hormones responsible for feelings of trust and sexual around. While on ecstasy, the release of this chemical in large amounts could cause empathy, elevated mood, and emotional closeness.
Most of the desired effects of ecstasy abuse will last for 3 to 6 hours - although some users will take another dose once these effects start fading. Over the course of one week after using the drug moderately, you are highly likely to experience the following undesirable effects:
- Attention and memory problems
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased pleasure from or interest in sex
- Sleep problems
Ecstasy Dependence And Withdrawal
When you continue using ecstasy habitually, you will likely develop tolerance to it. As a direct result, you will have to start taking more of the drug to achieve the desirable effects that you are looking for.
Over time, the drug - as well as the need to continue obtaining and abusing more of it - might dominate your life. As a direct result, your relationships, commitments, responsibilities, and work/school might become subordinate to MDMA.
This shift in your priorities will mark the official beginning of your journey to full dependence and addiction. Once addiction develops, you may also start engaging in illegal, risky, and/or dangerous behavior because of your innate need to get more ecstasy. At this point, you won't even care about the possible repercussions you are likely to suffer.
Whereas addiction - technically referred to as a substance use disorder - is a largely psychological diagnosis, dependence will describe the physiological processes that will be happening in your body because it needs ecstasy to function normally. As a direct result, if you are dependent on it, you are highly likely to feel irritable and/or uncomfortable whenever you don't have it in your system.
Therefore, if your supply of ecstasy runs out, you might experience withdrawal that comes with a variety of symptoms. Most of the withdrawal symptoms arising from ecstasy cessation or a lack of the drug tend to overlap with those arising from stimulant drugs. As such, most of these symptoms tend to be psychological in nature.
They include, but are not limited to:
- Inability to tell the difference between what is real and what isn't
- Increased cravings to take more ecstasy
- Increased desire for more of the drug
- Out-of-body perceptions
- Panic attacks
- Paranoid delusions
In this way, the symptoms of withdrawing from MDMA are the direct opposite of most of the desired effects of the drug. For instance, while you are under the influence of ecstasy, you may feel a sense of elevation and connection to people around you. However, if you experience withdrawal, you are likely to demonstrate increased despondency and social isolation.
While experiencing some of the more adverse effects of withdrawing from ecstasy, therefore, you may be a threat to your health and safety - as well as to the general wellbeing of anyone else around you.
Apart from these adverse withdrawal symptoms, you may also increase your risk of suffering an overdose as a result of prolonged MDMA abuse. In most cases, overdose comes with even more extreme health effects.
These health effects may occur when you take an excessive large dose of the drug - or after you have been taking a series of doses over a while in a bid to maintain its desired effects (a practice that is commonly referred to as piggybacking).
In most cases, the effects of an ecstasy overdose requires immediate and urgent emergency medical attention and treatment. They may include:
- Extreme increases in body temperature.
- High blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Organ complications and damage as a result of the increasing body temperatures
- Panic attacks
In the most extreme of cases, ecstasy might also cause sudden death as a result of heart failure and heat stroke. Since the drug also masks your need for rest, water, and food while causing your body temperatures to rise (and simultaneously increasing your levels of physical activity), it has also been linked to several deaths arising from exhaustion and dehydration.
Overdose can also lead to many other unexpected effects - although some of these are hard to solely attribute to the actions of the drug. This is because some MDMA tablets are usually mixed with other intoxicating and mind altering substances like ketamine, caffeine, and methamphetamine.
Therefore, you might have gone out to buy the drug only to get pills that contain no ecstasy whatsoever. When this happens, you are highly likely to suffer other potential safety concerns and issues because you won't understand the new effects arising from taking the new pills.
Ecstasy Treatment And Rehabilitation
It can be hard to stop using ecstasy - especially if you have been abusing it at high levels or for extended time periods. As a direct result, it is highly recommended that you undergo specialized mental and physical health care to ensure you come off the drug safely and with no adverse long term impacts on your health and wellness.
Depending on your particular circumstances, therefore, the most optimal environment to manage your detoxification, withdrawal, and bodily and mental issues would be at a rehabilitation and treatment facility.
Detoxification, in particular, will help remove the substance as well as its resultant chemical influences from the body. Through detox at an accredited and licensed facility, you will also receive medical care and attention around the clock to deal with any withdrawal symptoms - particularly those that tend to be severe and which might cause you to want to relapse.
Today, most of the treatment centers specializing in ecstasy addiction rehabilitation may also administer drugs to offset the mental and physical discomfort and pain that often accompanied MDMA withdrawal. This is because the progress of detoxification might cause the withdrawal symptoms we mentioned earlier to become quite intense and unbearable.
After a successful detox, you may shift your treatment to ongoing rehabilitation. In most cases, this may entail a variety of psychosocial and behavioral interventions where attempts may be made to help you understand your addiction, triggers, causes of abuse, and more. In the process, you may also learn how to avoid the drug in the future.
Once your triggers have been identified, you may spend some time with mental health professionals to devise new strategies that you can use to ensure you never relapse in the face of these triggers.
Additionally, you might be required to participate in support groups - such as 12 step groups and NA (Narcotics Anonymous). Such participation could bolster the gains you made while undergoing therapy.
That said, rehabilitation centers for ecstasy abuse and addiction range from pared down facilities to resort-like facilities. Your priorities, financial resources, and insurance benefits will largely determine the level of comfort and luxury you will be able to afford while undergoing detox, rehab, and treatment for ecstasy addiction.
Overall, however, the important thing is that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer you continue waiting, the highly likely it is that you will experience even more adverse effects of ecstasy addiction in your personal and professional life as well as in your general health and wellness.
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