Saturday January 21st 2017

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Can you get addicted to ecstasy?

Yes, it is possible to get addicted to ecstasy.

Although not everyone who takes ecstasy necessarily becomes addicted, there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of addiction. Research on the addictive potential of ecstasy has shown that some people are likely to become psychologically addicted, rather than develop physical addiction to ecstasy.

But, what makes ecstasy addictive? How can you recognize and avoid potential addiction to ecstasy? We review these questions here, and invite you to comment and/or ask additional questions in the section at the end of the page. We appreciate your feedback and try to reply personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

What’s in ecstasy?

According to current research, besides MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), additional substances that have been found in ecstasy include:

  • ephedrine – a stimulant
  • dextromethorphan – a cough suppressant
  • synthetic cathinones – a psychoactive ingredient
  • dextromethorphan
  • ketamine
  • caffeine
  • methamphetamine
  • …and even cocaine, LSD, or heroin

Mixing these substances with MDMA may be quite dangerous and even more when users add additional substances into the mix and take ecstasy and alcohol, or marijuana, or another illicit substance, thus exposing themselves to a higher danger.

Ecstasy and the brain

How does ecstasy work? Similar to other addictive drugs ecstasy works by increasing the levels of specific neurotransitters – norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin – in the brain. So, when you take ecstasy, it alters the chemical responses of these neurotransmitters resulting in altered brain functions. Under the influence, people usually experience the following ecstasy effects:

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  • increased energy
  • desire for emotional intimacy
  • higher perceptions
  • mood elevation

However, these pleasurable effects are followed by non-pleasurable after effects or a “crash”, which include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • cravings
  • depression
  • insomnia

How do you get addicted to ecstasy?

Compared to other drugs, ecstasy is less habit forming and does not usually lead to physical dependence. But, addiction to ecstasy can develop with regular use.

Chronic users, as opposed to occasional ones, form a habit of taking the drug and are able to function only when under the influence. An addict’s mind is at peace only if they have taken the drug and have enough supplies. On the other hand, they feel threatened when supplies are low. Over time, people who become addicted to ecstasy start to believe that they cannot function normally without it.

These behavioral signs of ecstasy addiction can serve as important clues when you suspect that you are on a downward spiral or you are trying to avoid addiction. The urge for regular use and obsessive thinking about ecstasy should come as a warning sign. If you have noticed some of these clues, you may want to consider getting help for ecstasy addiction. Do not hesitate to seek professional assistance if you feel that you may be addicted to ecstasy. Addiction to ecstasy (MDMA) can be successfully treated.

What increases addiction risk?

For many, ecstasy use starts with mere experimentation. This can stem from curiosity, peer pressure, as an escape from uncomfortable feelings, an underlying mental health disorder, past trauma, or it can have genetic predispositions.

When it’s a question of having fun, it may seem harmless to take a stimulant for the night without considering the possible dangerous outcomes. But, one thing that absolutely increases the risk of ecstasy addiction is repetitive use. Also, being a part of the club scene and hanging out with ecstasy users can certainly increase the risk of developing an ecstasy addiction.

How to avoid ecstasy addiction

1. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being offered ecstasy, think twice and consider the consequences.

2. To avoid the risk of getting addicted, simply, do not take the drug.

3. If you hang out with people who often take ecstasy or other addictive substances, try to avoid them.

4. Try to avoid situations where you know ecstasy will be present, especially if you are prone or have history of addictive behavior.

5. Work on your self-control and discipline to be able to avoid triggers, resist cravings, and not use ecstasy again.

Addiction to ecstasy questions

Please let us know if you have any additional questions about ecstasy addiction and post them in the designated section at the bottom of the page. We are happy to answer all legitimate inquiries in a personalized and prompt manner. In case we don’t know the answer to a question, we will gladly refer you to professionals who can help.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Analysis of illicit ecstasy tablets: implications for clinical management in the accident and emergency department
NIDA: Drug Facts on Ecstasy
NIDA: What are the effects of MDMA
NIDA Teaching Packets: Neurobiology of ecstasy

Photo credit: WikiImages

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