Ecstasy Symptoms and Warning Signs
Although not everyone who takes ecstasy will become addicted to it, there is a still a chance it might happen. Ecstasy actually has a high potential for physical and psychological addiction. It’s not too difficult to tell when you’ve become so dependent on the drug that you are in fact addicted.
Some signs of psychological dependence include frequent cravings, unease when the drug is not available, and preoccupation with ecstasy – such that you spend a lot of time and money trying to get it. There are other signs, such as when you begin to hide the drug around your home, being unwilling or unable to quit, even when you recognise that the substance is causing serious problems, and dealing with legal or financial difficulties related to ecstasy abuse.
Also, if you find yourself lying or engaging in secretive behaviour or are noticing changes in your social circles because of your ecstasy usage, it is more than likely you are addicted. Further signs are the reluctance to attend family or social events where the drug will not be available, as well as experiencing difficulty in fulfilling your normal responsibilities.
When you’re physically addicted to a drug, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. Withdrawal may be extremely unpleasant, possibly unbearable – and even has the potential to be deadly. The severity of the symptoms you experience will depend largely on how heavy the abuse is and how long you have been using the drug.
Main Indicators of Ecstasy Use
Before reaching the addiction stage, there will have been a period of ecstasy use. If you’re a close friend, family member or parent of someone who goes to music festivals, clubs, and other similar places on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to be aware of the main indicators of ecstasy use. At such venues, illicit use of ecstasy is very common.
If you can identify ecstasy abuse at an early stage, you should be able to help prevent it developing into a full-blown addiction. By preventing your loved ones from becoming addicted, you’ll be saving them, as well as yourselves, from any psychological pain and financial drain should they require treatment.
Ecstasy, also referred to as MDMA or Molly, is a modification of methamphetamine, which quickly produces stimulant effects that can escalate to dangerous levels. It can result in abnormally high body temperatures – enough to be lethal. That is because whilst ecstasy would normally cause the body to heat up, the combination of dancing for long hours in a warm environment can mean the situation escalates rapidly.
When the body’s temperature reaches abnormally high levels, the organs may breakdown, with the kidneys being most at risk. This can result in death. It’s common to find a ‘chill room’ in dance clubs (especially the type of establishments where a high number of patrons use ecstasy), which make provision for people to buy water and cool off.
To find out if your friend or loved one is using MDMA, look out for small coloured pills in their bags or pockets. They may even be hidden in plain sight, in candy necklaces on stretchy strings. The pills would normally feature imprints of product logos or characters. However, ecstasy is not always used in pill form, as it can be used in liquid form instead.
Other tell-tale signs of ecstasy use are an irregular sleeping schedule and a lack of awareness of pain. So, if your loved one has started sleeping irregularly after having attended music shows and the like, or haven’t even realised they are carrying an injury, you might want to investigate ecstasy use.
One of the effects of ecstasy is to produce feelings of affection or closeness, even towards those you have never met before. So, if you notice that your friend or family member suddenly seems to have multiple sexual partners, it could be an indication that they have been using ecstasy.
Even if the warning signs are not easy to catch early on, you’ll eventually figure it out if your friend or loved one is in fact using ecstasy. Cravings for the drug can set in quickly and will drive them to use the drug again and again. Then, it will only be a matter of time before the signs become too obvious to hide.
Another effect produced by the drug is exaggerated tactile sense, making a person to want to touch things that feel good or to want to be touched. Other symptoms include involuntary teeth clenching, chills, nausea, cramping muscles, and blurred vision. If your family member returns home from an all-night party, look out for those signs. Also, if he or she seems energetic and excited, and perhaps a little confused, it may be a sign of ecstasy use.
You should also look out for dilated pupils, tense muscles, a dry mouth, unnaturally long periods of energy, not sleeping for days at a time, and paranoia. Confusion, depression and anxiety are also signs to look out for, as those may be due to changes in the brain which happen soon after ecstasy abuse begins. Symptoms of ecstasy use also include poor performance in tests that require memory and cognitive ability.
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How relationships are affected by Ecstasy addiction
Like with any other drug, ecstasy addiction can be devastating for healthy relationships, causing destruction both within and beyond the immediate family. At first, you are more focused in the moment and the pleasure ecstasy can temporarily bring, not once imagining the degree of damage the drug can cause in the future.
By the time recreational use of MDMA morphs into full-blown addiction, you will likely be driven to use the drug due to satisfy your cravings. At this stage, you’re more interested in ensuring you always have a supply of ecstasy and that may become the most compelling undertaking in your life. If this happens, your relationships won’t get as much from you as they once did.
Even if you don’t realise it at first, your first thoughts when you wake up will shift from your spouse or family’s well-being to whether you have the drugs you need for the day. Although you might eventually recognise this problem and decide to change it, you are not entirely in control anymore once addiction sets in.
One of the most problematic effects of ecstasy addiction is that sooner or later, you will begin to lie and keep secrets from your loved ones. You won’t want them to know you’ve been out consuming ecstasy, so you’ll lie to them with regards your whereabouts. You may not have enough cash to buy as many pills as you want, so you might take money set aside for rent or groceries, without informing anyone.
If your loved ones become suspicious and decide to ask you questions, you may be unnecessarily defensive and verbally attack them. You might even resort to criticising others in order to deflect attention away from you. All this negativity is a recipe for disaster in any relationship.
There’s also the possibility of your emotional tone lowering, which will also cause your relationship to suffer. Your perceptions are dulled and you may not be able to experience much pleasure in general from life anymore.
Who EcstasyAddiction Affects
Ecstasy addiction will always have the most profound affect on the user. Both short and long-term effects of the drug can have terrible consequences for your life, affecting your physical and mental health.
One of the biggest problems that may arise from long-term ecstasy use is brain damage. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as ecstasy – like other drugs – effects on the neurotransmitters in the brain. Even after the initial ‘high’, you will likely still experience extreme emotions and states of psychological imbalance such as depression, anxiety, confusion or sleep deprivation.
The problems worsen the longer you abuse ecstasy. Some studies have found that the negative effects of chronic or repeated ecstasy use on the brain can last for as long as seven years after the drug was used. Experts have reason to believe that the parts of the brain involved with learning functions and memory can suffer long-term damage from ecstasy abuse.
Other organs are also at risk of harm due to ecstasy abuse, particularly the kidneys and liver, which could have fatal consequences. Specifically, some of the harmful effects of MDMA on the body include higher body temperature, jaw clenching, erectile dysfunction, seizures, tooth grinding, muscle tension, increased blood pressure, and heart palpitations.
Not only is ecstasy addiction a danger to the mind and body, but it’s also damaging to your finances. At first, it may seem like buying ecstasy doesn’t hurt your pocket too much, but over time, you may find you’re spending more than you bargained for. It’s easy to lose perspective on what the drug is costing you financially and it may reach a stage when you’ll find yourself neglecting important bills and other necessary expenditure.
Ecstasy addiction may also cause you to neglect responsibilities at work, contributing to low productivity levels, missed deadline or skipping work altogether. The results can be devastating if you are eventually fired and driven even further into financial crisis. You may then find yourself engaging in activities you never imagined, such as stealing from family members, just to get hold of the drug.
Though you are the first person who will be affected by ecstasy abuse, realise that you are certainly not the only person who will suffer the consequences of your addiction. Those who will suffer most are your immediate family and other loved ones.
Neglecting family, and your duties to them, is certain to cause strain on your relationships, especially if you begin to act aggressively to get them off your back. They will suffer emotionally – not only from the way you treat them, but also because they will be worried about you and the damage addiction may be doing to your life.
Children with a parent who abuses drugs may end up with serious emotional damage. Often, they are subjected to emotional or other abuse, causing enough damage to negatively affect their mental health, social stability and education.
Please, don’t wait for it to get to that stage. It’s important to take charge of the situation as soon as possible, in order to avoid it worsening significantly. Seek help immediately to begin the process of getting your life together again.
Ecstasy Abuse Exposes People to the Following Risks
One of the most common risks associated with MDMA addiction is sexual. If you abuse the drug, you may engage in risky sexual behaviour, particularly having more than one partner and not using any form of protection at all. Such behaviour naturally puts you at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Sharing needles when taking MDMA (in a group) also puts you at significant risk of contracting HIV.
You might engage in risky sexual behaviour because of the effect of the drug when you use it. You’re likely to experience enhanced sensory perception as well as feelings of closeness or affection for whoever is nearby, regardless of whether you’ve met them before or not.
Abusing ecstasy can also put you at risk of reaching dramatically high body temperature or hyperthermia, especially if you use it during periods of extended physical activity like dancing, or in warm, crowded environments. If hyperthermia is not treated immediately, it can cause a breakdown of muscles or an electrolyte imbalance, possible resulting in kidney failure. There is also the possibility of fatal brain swelling.
Other health risks include hypertension, hot flashes or chills, mild detachment from yourself, involuntary jaw clenching, seizures, illogical or disorganised thoughts, and panic attacks.
When still under the influence of the drug, your ability to perceive and predict motion reduces. This is dangerous if you get behind the wheel of a car.
Confronting the Ecstasy User
It’s never easy to confront anyone. However, in certain situations, it is absolutely necessary.
The first step is to make sure you are adequately prepared to confront your friend or family member who has been abusing ecstasy. Determine why you are confronting them in the first place. Why are you concerned about their behaviour and how is it problematic? Next, you’ll need to learn as much as you can about ecstasy addiction.
It helps to have a script, or at least an outline to help you stay on course in the event that the discussion becomes a challenge. You’ll also need to provide solutions for recovery that you can offer them. It’s important to tread lightly when you are ready to confront your loved one and crucial to pick the right place and time to do so. Don’t approach them when either of you are upset. Do so when they are sober and comfortable and be sure to convey the right tone. You must not come over as being judgemental.
As you attempt to be gentle and understanding, you also have to be firm. They need to know that there will be consequences for not changing their ways or seeking treatment. It could be a threat to kick them out of the house, not allow them to visit their child, or not cover for them at work. Whatever it is, the point is to ensure they take you seriously and not think you are bluffing.
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Ecstasy Treatment, Withdrawal and Next Steps
To successfully kick your ecstasy addiction and avoid going back to the drug, it’s important to seek a proper treatment programme. Whether in an inpatient facility or at home, each treatment programme involves a detoxification stage, where you’ll have to wait as the drug leaves your system.
Naturally, ‘detox’ brings about withdrawal symptoms, which are experienced because the body is trying to relearn how to function optimally without MDMA. Prior to detoxification, your brain will have become used to the heightened activity of neurotransmitters. Hence, it would be dependent on the substance to function. Such substance dependence is to be expected if you have been using MDMA persistently for a long time.
What you experience during the withdrawal phase will likely be the opposite of that when you were ‘high’. Typically, that would include anxiety and depression, alongside an intense craving for the drug.
While ecstasy withdrawal is mostly psychological, it’s possible to experience physical symptoms as well. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, as different factors contribute to the exact symptoms you’ll experience. Such factors include overall health, frequency and duration of drug use, tolerance, any other drugs that ecstasy was cut with, and the nature of co-occurring mental disorders (if any).
Some of the withdrawal symptoms you may experience include: confusion, depression, agitation, cravings, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, paranoia, memory problems, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, and changes in self-perception.
Following the detox process (when you will experience the worst of the symptoms), withdrawal may carry on for some time, although the symptoms will reduce in severity. During withdrawal, the cravings make it likely for there to be a relapse, so you will have to be very disciplined if you choose to detox at home. If you opt for treatment in an inpatient facility (which is recommended), you’ll receive help from trained medical personnel when dealing with cravings.
Therapy is another crucial aspect of treatment, without which detox will be of little effect, as it alone will not help you avoid a relapse. With therapy, the root cause of your addiction will be identified and dealt with appropriately. You will also learn techniques to help you catch cravings early and deal with them without relapsing.
Depending on your situation, you may need to keep seeing your doctors and therapists for months or years after the initial treatment. Often, support groups are recommended as part of your after-rehab recovery plan. Also, your family can play a significant role in helping you stay clean long-term, by being the best support system you have.
Quitting Ecstasy: Professional Help and the Road Ahead
It is possible to quit ecstasy on your own, but your chances for success are slimmer the longer you have been using the drug and the more dependent you are on it – however, it is absolutely possible. If you believe that you’ve become dependent on the drug, it is best to seek professional help. You should also seek the assistance of experts if you have any co-occurring conditions or if you are addicted to another substance in addition to ecstasy.
There are two main options you can choose from, as far as professional help goes; inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient, or residential treatment, means you will live in a treatment facility for the duration of your treatment, under the supervision of medical professionals. You will also join crucial therapy sessions, aimed at tackling your problem from the root and equipping you for long-term sobriety.
Inpatient treatment is recommended, because you can be closely monitored and treated immediately should complications arise. Outpatient treatment may be better if you don’t have any issues that may lead to complications and if you cannot afford the inpatient option. It is also a great option for those who cannot leave their home or work commitments. Of course, you’ll still get the professional help you need.
There are many facilities and professionals across the United Kingdom who offer treatment for ecstasy addiction. Treatment facilities are typically only a part of a longer treatment process. You may have to join a support group afterwards to help make sure you stay on track throughout the recovery period.
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Before Ecstasy Rehab
Once you’ve decided to seek treatment and are accepted into the facility, there are some considerations you may have to think about. By taking the necessary steps before rehab, you can ensure you remain focused as you recover. Firstly, you’ll need to organise your commitments at home and work. Apply for medical leave at work and make arrangements for your loved ones or pets to be taken care of if you are a caregiver.
Sort out any bills that need to be paid, both immediately and while you’re away. When it’s time to pack, be sure to follow the rules of rehab, regarding prohibited items and only pack the essentials.
Don’t forget to take a journal and pen, so you can document how you’re feeling each day. You can write anything you want in it; writing may turn out to be a great distraction for you and can also prove cathartic. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to take some time to relax before you go away.
During Ecstasy Rehab
Not every rehab will be exactly the same, but there are general aspects you can expect. In general, the steps are:
- Ongoing Recovery
The initial phase of detoxification is to allow a period of time to remove of the traces of MDMA from your system. You’ll likely be given maintenance medication to make the symptoms of withdrawal more bearable. Don’t worry, as detox is a safe process once you are under the supervision of medical personnel.
Once past the detox stage, you’ll continue through drug rehabilitation where you’ll get to identify and tackle the core reasons behind your addiction. It is important to tackle these issues properly, so you can move on with your life without relapsing after rehab. You may be part of individual, group or family therapy, depending on the rehab facility in question.
Upon completion of there habilitation programme, you’ll have to continue with recovery, which may turn out to be a lifelong journey. That’s why it is important to have a solid support system in place.
After Ecstasy Rehab
Before leaving the rehab facility, you will discuss a plan for aftercare with your counsellors. A good number of rehab facilities offer follow-up programmes to provide assistance after rehab. If there is no such programme or your treatment facility is overseas, you may take up residence in a sober living facility, where you’ll get the benefit of a supportive transitional period before you return to your regular environment.
After rehab, you are likely to submit to scheduled drug testing and regular sessions to keep you on track. You might be advised to join a support group like Narcotics Anonymous or another twelve-step programme.
Regardless what kind of support system you undertake after rehab, you will need to work hard and remain dedicated to your goal of maintaining sobriety. It’s not uncommon to relapse after coming out of rehab, but it’s important to do your best to prevent it and to take control if it happens by seeing your doctor immediately.
Relapse can be dangerous, as you may try to take the same dose you used to previously. Your body will probably not be able to tolerate it any longer, which will lead to an overdose. Ensure you surround yourself with supportive family and friends, whilst avoiding any possible triggers to reduce the chances of having a relapse.
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Ecstasy Support Groups
Ecstasy support groups are organisations where you can receive/provide sobriety support from/for other former ecstasy users. Twelve-step programmes are the best-known model of support groups; one such example is Narcotics Anonymous (NA). In a programme like NA, you will follow an established set of steps toward recovery. There are support groups that take a secular approach, with many focusing on surrender to a higher power.
After rehab, involvement with support groups has been associated with much lower rates of drug use, for as long as 30 months (post rehab).
Typically, you will receive therapy alongside formal treatment via inpatient or outpatient arrangements. Therapy is meant to provide elements of psycho-education regarding substance abuse, development of a long-term plan to remain abstinent, development of coping skills to help avoid relapse, and stress management. The preferred form of abstinence is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Psychological issues can be addressed at an ecstasy addiction treatment centre, through counselling. Some of the therapies that may be used to address issues of self-sabotaging behaviours, negative self-beliefs, or trauma, include:
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
Family counselling may also be used alongside individual therapy, group counselling and couples’ counselling. Family and couples’ counselling can be particularly beneficial for revisiting and strengthening intimate bonds.
Other therapies that may be used include recreation therapy, anger management, medication management, relapse-prevention instruction, as well as biofeedback and neuro-feedback.
Ecstasy is easy to obtain and hugely popular amongst club goers and music festival attendees. It’s popular because of the feelings of physical closeness, euphoria, and enhanced senses that it produces. Unfortunately, people tend to wrongly assume it is not dangerous, because it doesn’t result in severe addiction like hard drugs – for instance, heroin.
If used long enough, MDMA can severely impede the overall quality of life, posing substantial risks to one’s mental and physical health. By the time it becomes obvious to you and your family that ecstasy is leading you down a dangerous path, you will likely need rehab to recover from your addiction.
Ecstasy rehab involves detoxification, therapy and aftercare, which are all components of a long-term treatment plan to unhook you from ecstasy addiction. Your drug rehabilitation programme may take place through an outpatient treatment programme or an inpatient facility, close to home or even overseas. While detox and therapy will take place through the formal treatment programme, aftercare may be provided separately.
One of the most important reasons for going to rehab – instead of trying to quit on your own – is the medical support you’ll receive in an inpatient facility. Due to the fact ecstasy is often cut with other substances, you can never be certain what withdrawal symptoms to expect and how severe they will be. It’s even worse if you are a chronic or long-term user of ecstasy.
In an impatient facility, medical personnel will provide medication to help make the withdrawal period more bearable and care for should you experience any complications. These are not common, but may be a concern if you are addicted to multiple substances. Inpatient treatment is also the best option if you have any co-occurring mental conditions or physical health issues that need to be managed.
While medical support is crucial in the initial stages of recovery, it can only go so far. Therapy and counselling are an even bigger part of rehab. The focus of therapy is to get to the root of your addiction, in order to identify and address the core reasons. This is key to ensure that you don’t return to ecstasy abuse.
It’s important to seek treatment for ecstasy addiction as soon as you possibly can, because of the dangers of long-term abuse of the drug. MDMA poses serious danger to the body, particularly overheating, as well as heart and kidney failure. While an overdose may be rare, it can be lethal. Ecstasy detox is the first stage of treatment and is necessary as it involves ridding your body of all the toxins from the drug.
Consider that ecstasy pills contain other toxic substances other than MDMA, so you can never be sure what a pill contains before you take it. You may be exposing yourself to addiction to other unknown substances or additional physical harm every time you use ecstasy.
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Ecstasy Overdose – Facts and Statistics
Ecstasy is not known to be as addictive as harder drugs like heroin, so it is often underestimated. Many are not aware that it canprove fatal ifoverdose occurs. The number of reported deaths related to ecstasy and MDMA in England and Wales amounted to 63 in 2016 – the highest number since 1993.
While deaths related to MDMA are not as high as those related to tobacco and alcohol, the figures are enough to indicate that it is a drug to be taken seriously. As we consider the numbers, it’s also prudent to understand the specific risk factors and behaviours that result in cases of reported MDMA-related deaths. It is only a fraction of MDMA deaths reported each year that are a direct result of MDMA toxicity or overdose.
It is not uncommon to find that an MDMA-related death had something to do with the abuse of multiple substances. Amphetamine and methamphetamine are often involved, and in some cases, opiates and cocaine would be in the mix. There are also cases that involve alcohol abuse as well. It is easy to see how someone that is both drunk and high on MDMA could experience an accident if they were to drive home.
In cases where death is directly caused by ecstasy overdose, the most common cause is related to malignant hyperthermia/hyperpyrexia, or as some would refer to it; heatstroke. The next most common cause is hyponatremia or water intoxication. In rare cases, the cause of death will be MDMA’s stimulant effects aggravating existing health conditions, such as heart disease.
What You Need to Know about ‘Molly’
Many people assume that ‘Molly’ is pure MDMA, but this is not the case at all. Before the mid-1990s, ecstasy was considered the purest drug on the streets. However, following a crackdown, the supply dwindled until the early 2000s, when the pure substance became more easily available again. In no time, people began to label the purer form of ecstasy, using the name ‘Molly’.
In reality, ‘Molly’ is almost the opposite of pure MDMA, as most drugs being passed around as pure MDMA are in fact synthesised substances that mimic the effects of ecstasy. Often, ‘Molly’ pills primarily contain ethylone, methylone and Alpha-PVP.
The other substances that are contained in ‘Molly’ are also a major concern, because there is no telling what their effects might be. You must be aware that by taking ‘Molly’, you are exposing yourself to other, potentially riskier substances that can be problematic in a number of ways.
Regardless of its purity, it is important to note some of the factors that make its use particularly dangerous. First is the environment where it is used. As the drug is typically taken in nightclubs and other such places that are hot and crowded, this poses a tremendous risk. It’s even worse if you are not able to get access to water.
The most dangerous form of toxicity that has been found to be induced by ecstasy is its tendency to raise patterns that are very much like heatstroke. Because ‘Molly’ causes dramatic increases in body temperature, adding more heat by dancing in a crowded environment can be extremely dangerous.
While it may help to cool off by drinking enough water, it can equally be risky to drink too much. By drinking too much water, you can disturb the electrolyte and salt balance in your body, possibly causing your body’s organs to fail, as much as dehydration can. Organ failure is extremely dangerous to your health and can even result in death.
It is not uncommon to find users of ‘Molly’ combining it with other drugs or alcohol. By now, you will have guessed that this is a very dangerous practice.
Alcohol is particularly dangerous to combine with ‘Molly’ due to its diuretic effect. A diuretic substance is one that causes you to urinate often, and ‘Molly’ only exacerbates this. A combination of ‘Molly’ and alcohol can leave you dehydrated, seriously jeopardising your health.
Latest in Recovery
Researchers in Florida have been able to discover a deletion of memories associated with drug use. Such a breakthrough can be very crucial to solving drug addiction, as it might help addicts to forget the triggers that can lead to relapses and consequently, fatal overdoses. The possibility of achieving this with the help of a chemical certainly sounds encouraging.
This solution has not been tested on humans yet, but the hope is for trials to start by 2020. The medication is not set to replace conventional rehab entirely. Rather, it will complement it. The idea is to go through with regular detox and therapy. The medication will be administered once and should get rid of all associations with the drug.
It could be a particularly important breakthrough for MDMA dependence, since there are no replacement therapies, as is the case with alcohol, nicotine and opiate. Instead of having to deal with the memories of drug use and triggers for the rest of your life, you could go about your daily business without being affected even by the sight of ecstasy.
While it’s expected to take a while before the medication will be tested on humans (and then approved for use, if ever), there are measures you can take to improve your chances of avoiding relapse. Surround yourself with supportive people and take support groups seriously. It’s also a good idea to avoid any situations or people who may act as potential triggers.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
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