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Ecstasy Addiction

What’s in a Name? Ecstasy Addiction Does Not Lead to Permanent Happiness

Ecstasy, X, E or the medical term MDMA are the many different names for this illegal hallucinogenic drug. A person who ingests ecstasy may experience an overwhelming burst of energy, distorted perception and enhanced gratification from heightened sensory experiences. Generally, ecstasy is used most often as a party drug in dance clubs and other social settings.

Pills and capsules are the primary forms in which ecstasy is taken. However, there are situations where this drug is sniffed in a powder form. Rare cases exist where people may either inject ecstasy with a needle or smoke it.

Besides the potentially addictive nature of ecstasy, there is concern for how the drug is sold. There are times when the capsules contain multiple substances in addition to ecstasy components. Other substances such as caffeine, cocaine or heroine could be mixed with the drug.

Despite the harmful effects, ecstasy is a popular drug partly because of the experiences a person has within an hour of taking a single dose. Some of these feelings may include:

  • Emotional warmth
  • Empathy
  • Mental stimulation
  • Decreased anxiety

Ecstasy addiction may also be linked to enhanced senses.

Who Uses Ecstasy?

Initial reports showed that ecstasy was used most often by White youth and young adults who attended long dance parties. Currently, the drug is used broadly among people of all ages and ethnicity.

According to a 2011 national survey of drug use in the United States for people age 12 and older, 12.3 percent of people between 18 and 25 years old are most likely to use ecstasy during their lifetime. The second highest group is people over 26 at 4.9 percent.

Changing the trend of these statistics may depend on drug prevention programs that involve other teens and young adults. The social context in which this drug is used is a great influence on a young person’s decision to indulge. High schools and colleges can become the first line of defense to educate young people about the harmful effects related to taking ecstasy.

Ecstasy Addiction Side Effects

Ecstasy contains stimulant properties that give users the energy to dance longer than normal. This is one of the most common side effects when the drug is taken in a dance club. However, some users have experienced immediate effects such as agitation and anxiety. A variety of other side effects are also associated with ecstasy addiction that includes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Seizures
  • Involuntary clenching of the teeth
  • Dehydration

The physical effects of ecstasy may last for weeks. Further, some individuals are susceptible to heart failure when ecstasy reduces the heart rate when physical activity increases.

Other individuals may have conditions that affect brain activity. Some research indicates that moderate to high doses of ecstasy can poison nerve cells in animals. When a user’s body temperature increases after ingesting this drug, severe medical problems occur that may lead to death.

The Addictive Nature of Ecstasy

The degree of ecstasy addiction varies among scientific research. Some research suggests that the addictive properties in ecstasy are extremely harmful; other research shows a clear dependence by users even with knowledge of potential physical and/or psychological danger. Users may continue to take ecstasy even as their initial response to the drug diminishes and they experience severe withdrawals.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 43 percent of users fall under the drug dependence category. When these users make an attempt to stop taking ecstasy, the withdrawal effects can become intense. Some users may experience:

  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration

For some, withdrawal from ecstasy might be more extreme when the drug is diluted from a mixture of other stimulants. The combination of ecstasy with other addictive drugs may increase the side effects when attempting to detox from usage.

Generally, the environment in which ecstasy is acceptable may contribute to a person’s willingness keep taking the drug. The blood stream quickly absorbs ecstasy, which gives most people an immediate high. However, the drug also interferes with metabolic processes where the body does not breakdown the drug. The counter effect may lead to cardiovascular problems or worse.

Other Health Conditions Associated with Ecstasy Addiction

In general, ecstasy addiction can mirror the physical effects of cocaine and other amphetamines. These may include high blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. People who already have circulatory problems are most at-risk to having these medical conditions. The side effects common with ecstasy are also connected to cocaine use.

Taken in high doses, ecstasy interferes with how the body regulates temperature. Sharp increases in body temperature can lead to hyperthermia, where heat is absorbed in the body rapidly without an equal chance to dissipate. A person could have liver or kidney failure. Some may even die if hyperthermia occurs.

The risk factor for HIV and hepatitis increases with the typical sexually charged situations where ecstasy is taken. People may engage in unprotected sex, which can expose them to different sexually transmitted diseases.

In some cases, equally harmful drugs are sold as ecstasy, which compounds the risks associated with this drug. Synthetic cathinones, which contain active ingredients found in bath salts, are linked to health risks that are unpredictable. When combined with other stimulants, cough suppressants, alcohol or marijuana, a person increases their risk of having a health emergency.