Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. An estimated 1.1 million Americans used ecstasy for the first time in 2009, an increase from 894,000 in 2008. The seemingly innocent but very powerful drug produces feelings of emotional warmth, euphoria, increased energy, perception, and distortions in time. Ecstasy is used among adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at dance parties known as raves, but more recently has been found to be commonly used by a broader range of users. One side effect that makes Ecstasy a drug of choice among young college students is that is decreases appetite and the need for sleep, allowing for students to pull all-nighters or cram for exams. Ecstasy use is also very popular with gay men, who use the drug in combination with other drugs such as methamphetamine, marijuana, sildenafil (Viagra), cocaine, ketamine, and other legal and illegal substances. Because of the rate of abuse, which doesn't seem to be slowing any time soon, the need for Ecstasy addiction treatment has never been greater.
Once someone takes Ecstasy, it takes about 15 minutes for the drug to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. Here, it affects the neurons which use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin is vital in regulating sexual activity, aggression, mood, sensitivity to pain and sleep. Studies have shown a 20-60% reduction in healthy serotonin cells in Ecstasy users, which could affect an individual's ability to remember and to learn. Studies have shown that exposure to Ecstasy for only a few days can cause damage to nerves that is still there years later. Ecstasy use also affects the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Ecstasy causes many of the same physical effects as other stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines. For people with circulatory system problems this can be of particular risk. Other common side effects are blurred vision, nausea, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle tension, faintness and sweating. On occasion, Ecstasy use can cause the body temperature to rise sharply which could result in dehydration from over-activity without enough water, or at the other extreme, drinking enough water to cause water intoxication. This could lead to cardiovascular system failure, kidney, liver, and, in some cases, brain damage and death. Chronic ecstasy users also have increased rates of depression and anxiety due to the effects that the drug has on the dopamine levels in the brain.
One of the dangers of taking any illicit drug is the unknown purity and dosage that one might be taking on any given occasion. Ecstasy users are constantly putting themselves at risk of taking something that may seem like ecstasy but is actually a concoction of drugs such as methamphetamine, amphetamine, or ephedrine.
Despite the popular belief that Ecstasy is a relatively harmless drug and is not addictive, a poll of users showed that an estimated 43% of users met the criteria for dependence. These individuals met the criteria for dependence because they reported continued use of the drug despite withdrawal effects, bodily or psychological harm, and tolerance. An estimated 34% of those surveyed met the criteria for abuse of the drug. It doesn't take long to come to the conclusion that Ecstasy has a high potential for abuse seeing that the drug affects many of the same parts of the brain as other highly addictive drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. In animal experiments for example, animals prefer Ecstasy over other pleasurable stimuli, another hallmark of the most addictive drugs such as cocaine.
Another hallmark symptom of addiction and dependence is the fact that almost 60% of Ecstasy users report withdrawal symptoms, including depressed feelings, loss of appetite, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Ecstasy withdrawal happens when an individual has used the drug ecstasy for an extended period of time and suddenly stops using it. Because Ecstasy affects the parts of the brain that regulate sleep, sexual activity, aggression, mood, and sensitivity to pain, sudden cessation of use causes an imbalance in these chemicals. The "positive" feelings that the user experienced from Ecstasy quickly dissipate within a few hours and the user is left feeling depressed and anxious, needing more of the drug to get that "high" back.
This is why ecstasy can is so addictive and users may feel the need to use more and more ecstasy, more often, in order to experience the desired pleasurable sensations and emotions. Long-term chronic users report not being able to live without the drug. The artificially induced "happiness" that Ecstasy creates quickly dissipates and leaves the user feeling depressed as the chemicals in the brain return to normal levels. The most common ecstasy withdrawal symptoms include depression, fatigue, loss of appetite and trouble concentrating. Chronic ecstasy use can create such intense ecstasy withdrawal, that the chronic user may turn to other substances such as sedatives, hypnotics, alcohol, or anti-anxiety medications to treat their symptoms.
The most effective way to stop this pattern of abuse is to seek Ecstasy addiction treatment. Individuals experiencing ecstasy addiction and ecstasy withdrawal don't need to resort to other substances for solace, when effective Ecstasy addiction treatment is available. Ecstasy addiction treatment is sometimes the only solution to the problem, as the individual will be able to address withdrawal symptoms safely while also addressing the underlying issues which may affect them long-term if not addressed. When choosing an Ecstasy addiction treatment program, choose a one which will provide the best results. There are a variety of Ecstasy addiction treatment options, including short-term and long-term care, as well as out-patient and in-patient Ecstasy addiction treatment. Which program is appropriate can vary from individual to individual, but one should always keep in mind that recovering from addiction is not something which should be rushed. The more successful Ecstasy addiction treatment programs take 3 months or more, and the longer the individual remains in treatment the better chances they will have at getting off of Ecstasy successfully and staying off of it.
The first step of any Ecstasy addiction treatment program is detox. As part of a medically supervised detox individuals can rid their bodies of residual Ecstasy toxins which would otherwise remain in the body and cause cravings years after they have stopped using Ecstasy, putting them at risk of relapse. An Ecstasy detox will also ensure that all withdrawals symptoms are smoothly overcome and the individual is no longer experiencing the ill effects of the drug. Individuals detoxing from Ecstasy can expect to experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and paranoid delusions. All of these symptoms can be alleviated or avoided entirely with proper care, so it is best to detox from Ecstasy in a drug rehab setting. Ecstasy detox is not considered treatment, and is merely the first step of an Ecstasy addiction treatment regimen. The most effective Ecstasy addiction treatment incorporates counseling and therapy during the detox process, and then transitions into full time counseling and therapy once the physical symptoms of addiction have been overcome.
Group and individual counseling and therapy are crucial components to an Ecstasy addiction treatment program. Therapy will help individuals in Ecstasy addiction treatment repair the emotional and psychological damage that the drug has created in their lives. They can begin to discover how to achieve emotional highs and happiness without drugs, and thereby rebuild their lives and find true joy. This is so important for an Ecstasy user, who has been experiencing only artificial joy for so long. It can be a tough process, but it is possible through Ecstasy addiction treatment to recover from ecstasy addiction.
Residential treatment is the most proven and successful Ecstasy addiction treatment method available, especially for individuals who have struggled with long-term Ecstasy use. At a residential Ecstasy addiction treatment facility, individuals reside at the facility from 3 months to as year and LIVE treatment. There are no drugs, no distractions. A residential Ecstasy addiction treatment program provides a full spectrum of services including motivational and behavioral therapy as well as individual and group counseling to address all areas of an addict's life. Being in this type of environment allows the individual to completely immerse themselves in the Ecstasy addiction treatment process, which provides a kind of focus that expedites gains and success in treatment.
There are also more short-term Ecstasy addiction treatment programs available, which typically last 30 days, but these programs are only recommended for individuals with very little history of Ecstasy use. Individuals who would benefit from such a short-term Ecstasy addiction treatment program are those who require only a moderate amount of treatment. A short-term program typically delivers a modified 12-step approach to address addiction issues, but this is often not a sufficient treatment method for individuals who are just coming off of Ecstasy. The important thing to consider is the goal of Ecstasy addiction treatment, which is to get off and stay off of the drug for good. Keep this in mind when choosing an Ecstasy addiction treatment program.
Ecstasy is a very dangerous and highly addictive drug. If you are using Ecstasy or know someone who is, don't fall prey to the idea that it isn't a dangerous drug. It can cause many dangerous side effects, and affect your brain and body for the rest of your life. In the most serious cases, Ecstasy can kill. The goal of Ecstasy addiction treatment is to help an Ecstasy addict be able to function happily in their lives and be productive in the family, workplace, and community without the use of drugs. Studies show that most individuals who take part in Ecstasy addiction treatment remain in treatment and stop using Ecstasy. Stop the destructive cycle of Ecstasy abuse for yourself or someone you love by seeking an effective Ecstasy addiction treatment program and getting started today. Professional drug treatment counselors are standing by to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have so that addiction can end and a new life can being.