Ecstasy, also known as MDMA (an abbreviation of its chemical name), is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception. It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens which is why it produces such a powerful euphoric effect. While ecstasy may be popularly known as a “party drug,” ecstasy addiction is certainly no party.
Over time, ecstasy abuse takes a huge toll on the body and mind and can lead to serious health and personal problems. Fortunately, there is effective help available with ecstasy addiction treatment centres like Liberty House helping countless people to get their lives back on track.
What is ecstasy?
Ecstasy is a common recreational drug with no medically sustained medical use. The chemical name of ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA for short. Ecstasy produces an energising effect, distortions in time and perception, increased pleasure from tactile experiences and enhanced feelings of communication and empathy. The effects of ecstasy typically last for three to six hours but are considered by some drug users to be among the most pleasurable of any substance which can lead to frequent ecstasy abuse and eventually result in addiction.
How is ecstasy taken?
Ecstasy is most often available in pill form, although it can also be snorted (either by crushing up the pills or snorting MDMA in its pure powder form). Pills come in a range of different colours and are frequently stamped with logos or symbols that are intended to show the drug’s origin or contents so that users can identify their favourite brands. However, the logos or symbols on ecstasy pills do not guarantee the drug’s purity or content and often change from one batch to the next as suppliers attempt to evade law enforcement or copy other manufacturers’ popular pills.
What is ecstasy addiction and how does it develop?
As you take ecstasy more and more you can develop a tolerance where you need increased doses to get the same effect. Eventually, this can lead to a point where you experience ecstasy withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t been taking it. This dependence, in combination with different underlying factors, is what causes drug addiction.
There are various underlying factors that can increase the chances of becoming addicted to ecstasy, including:
- Mental health problems: Those with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or PTSD may turn to ecstasy as a way of self-medicating. This is particularly common in people who have experienced trauma or abuse or who are going through difficult times.
- Genetic disposition: Ecstasy addiction is often thought to be partially due to genetic factors and those with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves.
- Social environment: People who grow up in chaotic or abusive homes or who associate with friends who also abuse drugs are more likely to develop an addiction to ecstasy.
- Young people: Younger people are more likely to be in the kind of environments where ecstasy abuse takes place such as clubs and parties and so ecstasy addiction can result.
Am I addicted to ecstasy?
There are various ecstasy addiction signs to look out for in yourself which could point to your need for ecstasy addiction treatment. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you feel like you need to take ecstasy in order to have fun or feel happy?
- Are you using ecstasy more often than you’d like or in larger amounts than you intended?
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about ecstasy or planning your next dose?
- Are you continuing to use ecstasy even though it’s causing problems in your life, such as relationship issues or trouble at work?
If any of these MDMA addiction symptoms sound familiar or you are concerned about your ecstasy abuse, it’s important to seek professional help.
The effects of ecstasy addiction
One way to recognise the signs of ecstasy addiction is to look out for the effects it is having on you or a loved one. These can be both physical and mental health effects as well as other effects on your life and general well-being.
Some of the short-term symptoms of ecstasy abuse and addiction include:
- Memory problems
- Muscle cramps
- Blurred vision
With longer-term ecstasy abuse and addiction, you could suffer from:
- Mental health issues such as schizophrenia
- Heart damage
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
There are also various ways that ecstasy abuse can be fatal. For example, it’s possible to die from heatstroke if you use MDMA while dancing for long periods in a hot environment. Ecstasy can also cause dehydration which, if severe enough, can lead to organ failure and death. It is also possible that you ingest something fatal as a result of consuming other substances used in the manufacturing of ecstasy pills. While MDMA is the active ingredient, anything from cocaine and LSD to cough medicine and bath salts can be used to bulk out a pill. These other substances can also be harmful and lead to death.
Ecstasy addiction’s effect on life
In addition to these health issues, you may also have difficulty maintaining relationships and may lose interest in hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy. You may also engage in risky behaviours, such as driving while under the influence of the drug or having unsafe sex (a common occurrence with ecstasy due to its effects of lowering inhibitions and increasing sexual excitement).
Effective ecstasy addiction treatment
Ecstasy addiction treatment typically consists of three stages: ecstasy detox, ecstasy rehab and aftercare.
During detoxification, your body heals and clears all ecstasy from your system to break your physical dependence. This results in ecstasy withdrawal symptoms as your body and brain readjust to functioning without the drug because it has become used to having ecstasy present. Medical monitoring is crucial for the execution of this process, as withdrawal symptoms from ecstasy can pose potential dangers. Common ecstasy withdrawal symptoms can be both mental and physical and can include:
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
- Suicidal thoughts
The length and severity of ecstasy withdrawal will vary depending on how long you have been engaging in ecstasy abuse, your age, your health status and how much ecstasy you have been taking. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within a week, but some may last for several weeks. At Liberty House, we have a Consultant Psychiatrist and three on-site doctors available 24/7 who will ensure that you are kept safe and well cared for during your ecstasy withdrawal.
Ecstasy rehab treatment
Rehab is vital in helping you to overcome your addiction and build a foundation for long-term recovery from ecstasy. While there are many different types of MDMA rehab programmes available, research has shown that inpatient treatment is the most effective option for those struggling with ecstasy addiction. Inpatient treatment provides a safe and structured environment away from the triggers and temptations of daily life, allowing you to focus on your ecstasy recovery without distractions. In addition, inpatient ecstasy addiction treatment offers 24-hour access to care, which is essential for those who are struggling with severe addiction or who have co-occurring mental health disorders and need extra support.
During inpatient ecstasy rehab at Liberty House, you will receive care from our highly-skilled and experienced team of professionals who will work with you to address the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of your ecstasy addiction.
We offer a range of different therapies for ecstasy addiction at Liberty House and you can expect to participate in:
- Individual therapy and group therapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
- Family therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Gong bath therapy
- Sound therapy
- Art therapy
Aftercare and ecstasy relapse prevention
The aftercare stage of ecstasy addiction treatment is extremely important in preventing relapse after you leave ecstasy rehab. At Liberty House, aftercare typically consists of group therapy sessions that are held on a weekly basis. During these sessions, you can discuss your progress and any challenges you have faced over the past week. You will also receive support and guidance from your peers and from a professional therapist.
Aftercare is very effective in helping to prevent falling back into old patterns and help you to achieve long-term ecstasy recovery. However, there following relapse prevention tips can also be advantageous:
- Being aware of the factors that can trigger a relapse and having a plan in place for how to deal with them – Some common triggers for ecstasy relapse include boredom, stress, anxiety and depression.
- Finding healthy outlets for these emotions – This may mean exercise, journaling or simply talking to a friend or therapist.
- Avoiding places and people that remind you of ecstasy – Try taking up new hobbies, making friends with people who don’t use ecstasy and spending quality time with your family.
If you do experience a relapse, it’s important not to let it completely undo your progress. Remember that relapse is part of the recovery process and isn’t a sign of failure. With the right support, you can get back on track and continue moving forward in your recovery.