Ecstasy, like many other illegal drugs, can lead to addiction in some people. There are many users who will never develop an addiction to this party drug, but for others, it can totally ruin their life. And even those who do not go on to develop an addiction to ecstasy, the drug could be putting their life at risk every time they use it. So, what is ecstasy addiction and how does it develop?
What Is Ecstasy?
It is important to know a bit more about ecstasy before tackling the subject of addiction. The chemical name for ecstasy is MDMA and although it was first developed in 1912 by pharmaceutical company Merck, it became a popular party drug with links to the dance culture in the eighties and nineties.
One of the biggest problems for users of ecstasy is the fact that dealers tend to mix pure MDMA with other substances that can include other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, or harmful chemicals such as rat poison and deworming substances for dogs. Those who take the drug have no way of knowing how pure it is and whether the substance they are taking could result in serious side effects, or even death.
How Does Ecstasy Affect the User?
You may be wondering why anyone would take ecstasy when there are so many risks to health involved with it, but those who do take it enjoy the feelings they get from the drug. Ecstasy gives users a feeling of energy and alertness and makes them feel extremely happy. They are often said to be more in tune with their surroundings and may experience colours and sounds more vividly.
Ecstasy is also known to make individuals feel affectionate towards whoever they are with, even if these people are relative strangers to them. It can also make users very chatty. However, the effects of this drug are not all good; in fact, many individuals will experience paranoia or anxiety, and some may suffer with panic attacks and confusion. As the effects of the drug wear off, users may feel very lethargic and unhappy.
How Does Ecstasy Addiction Develop?
As with most other mood-altering substances, ecstasy can lead to addiction in many users. While many can use the drug recreationally, others will go on to develop crippling addictions that can destroy their life. So how does this happen?
Addiction usually begins with an increased tolerance to a particular substance. The user will initially have a choice when he or she decides to use a drug such as ecstasy. If the individual likes the effects of the drug, he or she may choose to use it again. This can lead to regular use, but as the person continues to use the substance, his or her body will begin to adapt to it being present in the system.
The first time the person took the drug, his or her body went into overdrive and started releasing feel-good hormones in response. Over time, the body will release fewer dopamine chemicals as it adjusts to the regular presence of ecstasy. This means that the person now has an increased tolerance to the drug and will require more of it in order to achieve the desired high.
As you might imagine, the more of the drug that the person takes, the more likely that he or she is to develop a physical dependence on it. Continued abuse of illegal drugs such as ecstasy often diminishes the person’s ability to choose whether to use the drug or not. After a while, he or she will be compelled to use it and will have no control over their ability to stop – even if they wanted to.
Long-Term Negative Consequence of Ecstasy Addiction
Addiction to ecstasy can result in many harmful consequences for the user. The drug can have devastating implications on the brain. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience in June 2015 showed that just four days of ecstasy use could cause damage to the brain that last for up to six or seven years. The damage to the brain leads to memory and learning problems.
Those who use the drug for extended periods may also suffer with confusion, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In addition, a number of physical health problems are caused by ecstasy abuse and these can include kidney disease, liver damage, and heart disease.
One of the more significant risks of ecstasy abuse is premature death. It is impossible to know how pure an ecstasy tablet is before it is taken; as such, the chemicals in the drug can cause a deadly reaction in some people. In fact, it is common for ‘ecstasy’ tablets to contain little or no MDMA at all. Pills typically contain a mix of many chemicals, some of which can be fatal.
Ecstasy can also be fatal for those with underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, heart conditions, and epilepsy. And even those who have not had a reaction to the chemicals in the drug could still be at risk of dangerous complications and even death because of overheating and dehydration.
Ecstasy users tend to go for long periods dancing in hot clubs. The danger is that many do not realise they are in danger of becoming dehydrated and may not drink enough fluids. Nevertheless, drinking too much can also be a problem for ecstasy users. It is important that those under the influence of the drug drink no more than one pint of non-alcoholic fluids every hour, as drinking more than this could cause a problem in the salt balance of the body. This is due to the fact that ecstasy can cause the release of a hormone that stops the production of urine. Drinking too much water could therefore prove to be deadly.
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction
If an individual has a physical dependence on ecstasy, he or she will typically require a detox to break the bond. This can be a complicated process as there is always a risk of complications due to severe withdrawal symptoms.
A detox should ideally be carried out in a supervised facility where medical staff will be in attendance to monitor the patient throughout. Most people will only experience mild symptoms during their detox, but there is always a risk of more severe symptoms, particularly among those with underlying medical conditions.
Detox programmes tend to last for around seven to ten days. During this time, the patient may experience intense cravings for the drug, but symptoms can be eased with medication if deemed appropriate by the medical staff at the clinic.
Once detox is finished, the patient must continue treatment with a rehabilitation programme if he or she is to fully recover. A detox programme will only break the physical addiction to the drug but will do nothing to address the emotional issues or the underlying cause of the illness.
In a rehabilitation programme, professional staff will work with the patient to identify the cause of the illness and will teach him or her various ways to deal with these issues should they arise again in the future.
A variety of techniques are used during rehabilitation programmes, which include individual counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy sessions, and 12-step work. Patients have the choice between treatment programmes in an outpatient or inpatient facility. Outpatient programmes are typically provided by the NHS and charities and require the patient to attend regular counselling sessions before returning home afterwards.
Inpatient programmes are a much more intensive and time-consuming way to tackle the issue of addiction recovery. Patients move into the clinic and stay there for the duration of their programme. This could be between six and eight weeks normally, but for those with a dual diagnosis or those who are addicted to more than one substance, a longer programme may be necessary.
Inpatient programmes tend to be provided by private clinics and where accommodations are usually decorated to a high standard. This is to ensure the comfort of the patient at all times. These clinics are staffed by teams of fully trained professionals who work tirelessly to provide around-the-clock care and support to patients.
If you want more information on the question of what is ecstasy addiction, or else if you are interested in a treatment programme for an ecstasy addiction, Liberty House Clinic can help. Please call us today for more information about our clinic and the various treatment programmes we provide.