ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Regular ecstasy users mostly underestimate the potential of ecstasy for abuse and addiction. This drug does not cause a great physical dependence, yet the psychological addiction can be both destructive and dangerous. This article provides information on how difficult the withdrawal from ecstasy is, what symptoms to expect, and what kind of help you need during it.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: Around 5 minutes.
Table of Contents:
- How Ecstasy Affects Brain and Body
- Is Ecstasy Withdrawal Hard?
- Is Ecstasy Withdrawal Dangerous?
- A List of Withdrawal Symptoms
- The Basic Timeline
- Medicines that Help
- Natural Remedies that Help
- Where to Go For Help
- Your Questions
How Ecstasy Affects Brain and Body
However, the brain reacts to ecstasy in a very particular way. When ecstasy is ingested, it disrupts proper communication between neurons by altering the chemical response of neurotransmitters. This causes many users to experience enhanced sensations of stimulation, which is the reason for its popularity on the drug scene. This drug can even cause oxytocin release, the very hormone released during a sexual orgasm.
And though the body is affected by these brain reactions, it is actually the brain that craves for more ‘ecstatic’ feelings, such as the following:
- Calmness and relaxation
- Empathy for others
- Heightened senses
- Long-lasting energy
- Lowered inhibitions
Furthermore, people can feel ecstasy withdrawal symptoms even after just taking it once. People become addicted to the above feelings for a variety of different reasons, showing that addiction is a very personal experience. And most often, the reasons lying behind it are revealed much later through the treatment.
Is Ecstasy Withdrawal Hard?
- Dosing amounts
- Overall physical and mental health
- Usage frequency
For example, those who have been using ecstasy more often and taking higher doses are more likely to experience a harder withdrawal than those who have been using it occasionally and in smaller doses. Also, chances are that withdrawal can be harder for those already struggling with mental health.
Is Ecstasy Withdrawal Dangerous?
Anxiety, which becomes a risk since many individuals find it helpful to self-medicate with other drugs.
Decreased appetite, as it possibly leads to nutritional deficiencies and detrimental weight loss.
Depression, sometimes even extreme, that may lead to suicidal ideation.
Insomnia, pertaining to the risk of getting oneself in accidents which could lead to injury.
As ecstasy releases a large amount of serotonin, when it is taken away it can make the brain feel depleted. This depletion may not only be the cause for above mentioned symptoms to occur, but also for a relapse as some individuals don’t entirely understand how to manage their behavior and emotions without ecstasy.
The bottom line is, even though ecstasy withdrawal manifests little harm to the body, there are dangers involved when it comes to the mental state.
A List of Withdrawal Symptoms
Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Changes in self-perception
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems
It should be noted that it’s common for users to quit ecstasy with other drugs, meaning not only ecstasy is in the system. In fact, people often take ecstasy along with other substances, such as LSD or alcohol. In these instances, withdrawal symptoms can become complicated.
Some people can even experience an MDMA-induced psychotic disorder, which means they’ll be withdrawing and coping with symptoms for a long period of time. Though this doesn’t occur for everyone, it’s one reason you should ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL SUPERVISION WHEN COMING OFF ECSTASY.
The Basic Timeline
0-72 Hours. During this period, your mind is still very aware of the recent presence of MDMA. Even though you experience fatigue and/or physical exhaustion, you could also still hallucinate. Some people feel physical withdrawal symptoms at this time, such as the following:
It is within these first 72 hours when you’re mostly at risk for relapse. Therefore, it’s critical that you’re under medical supervision at this time, especially if cravings are strong. A supportive medical environment can help prevent you from going back to using and provide you with medications and therapies, which ease withdrawal symptoms.
4 -7 Days. The body has completely got rid of ecstasy’s toxins, but the mind is still aware of the euphoric effects it felt from using. Therefore, it craves and feels a strong sense of lowness. These low feelings can be any of the following:
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble concentrating
Week 2. In general, it is much the same as week one, except for the cravings that may or may not be more apparent. With proper psychotherapy, your mind will begin to get better and you’ll find yourself in the beginning stages of easing off withdrawal symptoms.
Week 3. Your mind starts really feeling better. It gains a sense of confidence again and you can begin to feel yourself coming back to reality. However, cravings may still be persistent. Under proper treatment, these cravings will be reduced during this time.
Week 4. The mind has passed through and resolved acute ecstasy withdrawal effects. By this time your appetite is usually back and you feel optimistic about an ecstasy-free future.
Medicines that Help
Decreased Appetite. Being under medical supervision might be beneficial to help nutrients level out with supplements, vitamins, or minerals.
Depression and anxiety. Antidepressants help replenishing serotonin and dopamine levels needed for managing the depression and anxiety.
Insomnia. Those who suffer from insomnia due to the withdrawal might benefit from learning how to relax and set up health sleep routines. A good night rest can be essential for the body to resume its normal chemical functioning.
- Family therapy
- Group therapy (such as Narcotics Anonymous)
- Individual counseling
- Talk therapy
Natural Remedies that Help
- Acupuncture. Though this is still being researched, a more recent study found that acupuncture had positive effects on reducing withdrawal symptoms. In particular, those dealing with great discomfort from withdrawal can benefit from it.
- Distractions. As you advance through your withdrawal, your brain longs for more ecstasy in order to feel good. Finding the right kind of distraction is primarily to avoid cravings. Some find help in the arts (such as playing music, drawing, or writing in a journal) while other find new habits to be beneficial (such as cooking or gardening). Don’t be afraid to experiment around while you’re in treatment. You might just learn something new about yourself.
- Exercise. Most treatment facilities highly recommend exercise to those undergoing detox as exercise promotes natural dopamine and endorphins. Also, it has been shown that exercise promotes a better night sleep for those who experience insomnia.
- Meditation and Yoga. Withdrawal can bring a lot of stress upon individuals. Meditation and yoga not only ease withdrawal symptoms, but also help reducing cravings. These types of alternative therapies are also beneficial for those dealing with mental illness alongside their addiction, such as anxiety and depression.
Where to Go For Help
But where do you look?
First, speak with you family doctor. S/He can help refer you to local clinics or specialists. Then, call Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline – 1-800-622-HELP (4357). You’ll be connected with a government worker who will talk you through next steps for finding a detox clinic or treatment center.
Search for local results for the following:
- Addiction doctors (find an ABAM specialist near you)
- Psychologists and counselors (find an APA psychologist member near you)
- Psychiatrist (find an APA psychiatrist near you)
- Social workers (your State’s Department of Health and Social Services)
You’ll also want to reach out to family and friends. As you go about your recovery, you’re going to be in need of a support system. The people you can always reach out to when things get difficult. Furthermore, even after treatment, when recovery is still ongoing, you’ll have people there when necessary. If you’re a family member or friend of someone who’s addicted to crack there are a variety of options for you to seek help for your loved one.
If you have any further questions pertaining to ecstasy withdrawal, we invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any advice to give to people currently withdrawing, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to provide a personal response to each comment and get back to you promptly.