Ecstasy abuse is not a raving beauty!
Ecstasy or MDMA – 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine – is a synthetic, psychoactive drug known for its stimulant and hallucinogen effects. It has a high potential for abuse and no medical usefulness. So, if you’re reading this and feel that ecstasy use is an issue…you’re in the right place. We can help!
First, we suggest that you inform yourself about ways to recognize an ecstasy abuse problem. Then, we suggest that you seek professional help.
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In this article, we’ll review the signs and symptoms of ecstasy abuse, as well as ways to detect and address an ecstasy overdose. Then, we suggest treatment options and professionals that can help. At the end, we invite you to post your comments and questions. In fact, we will try to answer your real-life question personally and promptly.
Why is Ecstasy Abused?
Ecstasy (or MDMA) is used recreationally for its psychoactive effects.
People who take ecstasy are drawn towards the drug because it exerts positive feelings, euphoria, and increased sensations. With ecstasy, every sensation of light, sound and touch can be greatly intensified…making it a popular drug for abuse at parties and concerts.
Ecstasy can be abused through the following routes of administration:
- orally (by swallowing an ecstasy tablet, pill or capsule)
It is also not uncommon for ecstasy pills to be taken one after the other, a practice known as ‘stacking’. Stacking is the term used to describe the administration of 2, 3, 4…or more ecstasy tablets that have been layered to create a mega-pill that is several times more potent than taking one pill alone. Although taking ecstasy in such way may heighten effects and make them last longer, it is also extremely dangerous.
Signs and Symptoms of XTC Abuse
If you are looking to identify whether a loved one is abusing ecstasy, you can start looking as soon as they take the drug. Shortly after use, a person will most likely experience a range of effects due to the combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic properties of the drug.
Physical signs of ecstasy abuse:
- Higher pleasure from and desire for physical touch.
- Increased blood pressure (hypertension).
- Rapid heart rate.
- Shaking and tremors.
- Sweats and chills.
- Tension in face, mouth, and jaw.
Psychological signs of ecstasy abuse:
- Changes in mood and personality.
- Cravings for ecstasy.
- Distorted perception of time.
- Elevated alertness.
- Feelings of emotional peace and empathy.
- Reduced awareness and sensation of pain.
Behavioral signs of ecstasy abuse:
- A significant increase in energy levels.
- Frequent attendance of late-night events like parties and concerts.
- Having several sexual partners.
- Having small colored tablets (or packets of powder) carefully hidden different places.
- Irregular sleep schedule.
- Possession of accessories used in rave parties like glow sticks and LED accessories, as well as lollipops and pacifiers (yes, the ones babies use) to address jaw clenching caused by ecstasy.
- Spending a lot of time recovering from effects of ecstasy.
Recognize these signs of XTC abuse in yourself or a loved one?
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Risks and dangers of ecstasy abuse
The effects of ecstasy make it a dangerous drug. Many people have died from using ecstasy, and research shows that the number of ED visits related to the use of MDMA has increased by a staggering 128% in just 6 years. Although shocking, this result is not a surprise if you study the drug’s effects on the body.
Ecstasy overtly stimulates the brain, and changes the activity of neurons and neurotransmitters in the central nervous system (CNS). If electrical activity becomes uncontrolled, users may experience convulsions or seizures. This increase in brain activity further leads to an increase in:
- Body temperature. Because your core body temperature rises, sweat glands drench the skin with sweat to cool you down, and put you at risk for undetected dehydration.
- Heart rate. Increased heart rate greatly elevates blood pressure, increasing your risk of having stroke or heart attack.
- Sensory perception. False sensations caused by ecstasy make you less aware of your real surroundings, putting you in danger of becoming a victim to violence or unintentional self-harm. Ecstasy causes you to feel sense of intimacy to others and diminishes your sexual prohibitions. Therefore, you are likely to engage in high-risk sexual activities.
Overdose Due to Ecstasy Abuse
Ecstasy overdose can occur when you take a high ecstasy dose, take multiple doses, or take too many pills in a short span of time. Even if you are careful not to go overboard, you can still unintentionally OD because the purity of ecstasy tablets and powders change over time and differs from place to place.
Signs of an ecstasy overdose include:
- loss of consciousness
- panic attacks
- very high blood pressure
Overdosing on ecstasy can damage your organs and cause breakdown of the muscles, kidney and liver failure, swelling of the brain and heart attack.
When to Call 911?
If someone close to has passed out, has a skin hot to touch, is sweating profusely, or is incoherent when under influence of ecstasy – they may be overdosing on the drug and need medical help. Here is how you can help in such situation.
DO’s in case of an ecstasy OD:
- Call 911 as soon as possible.
- Inform the contact representative that the person has taken ecstasy and perhaps any other drugs or alcohol with it.
- Provide clear instructions about your exact location.
- Stay on the phone with medical professionals to receive instructions about how to aid the person until they arrive.
- Move the person to a dark and quiet environment to reduce stimulation.
DONT’s in case of an ecstasy OD:
- Do not give them fluids to drink. A person who has overdosed on ecstasy but is still conscious may be very thirsty and have heat exhaustion. Giving them water or alcohol can cause dilutional hyponatremia, a condition caused by dilution of the remaining sodium ions in the body. Small sips of Gatorade (not water) and nothing else can help prevent dilutional hyponatremia. Then, the emergency team will give them an IV.
- Do not give them any food, medicine, or drugs. This can only make matters worse.
- In case of a seizure do not restrain. You can make the situation safer for them by clearing away objects to avoid further harm. Turn the person’s head to the side to prevent choking on vomit. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
Immediate medical help for XTC abuse
The acute effects of ecstasy abuse are treated by establishing and monitoring breathing and circulation. Any ecstasy residue in the stomach is removed and deactivated through gavage and administration of activated charcoal. Doctors may also give the patient glucose if hypoglycemia is present. Seizures are addressed with the use of benzodiazepine medications. High blood pressure is treated with nitroglycerine or nitroprusside.
In case of a high body temperature, ice packs and evaporative cooling may be applied. A person may also be given some dantrolene, a drug that cools down body temperature. Patients who have a high body temperature must be treated immediately to prevent onset of rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle fibers). A urinary catheter is inserted to monitor urine output and detect early signs of rhabdomyolysis.
Treatment for XTC Abuse
When all immediate dangers of ecstasy abuse have been medically addressed and you enter a state of physical stabilization, you can move on the further stages of treatment.
First, you will be thoroughly examined. The initial assessment and evaluation helps doctors to gather information about your physical and mental health, substance use history, family support, personal needs, and the severity of your ecstasy dependence. The results from this process will help determine the course of your further treatment program.
Then, you’ll move on to therapy. Ecstasy abuse treatment also involves psychotherapy and behavioral therapies to help you uncover and resolve the root causes of your substance abuse. Therapy can also help you adopt new, positive behaviors and lifestyle changes that don’t involve ecstasy use. There are a variety of treatment methods available, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Motivational interviewing
- Contingency management
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- 12-step support groups
- Dialectic behavioral therapy
Who Can Treat an Ecstasy Abuse Problem?
A number of professionals! In fact, it is up to you to decide which source of help you are most comfortable to reach out to. Here, we suggest a few possible options to get you started.
An ecstasy abuse helpline – A drug hotline is safe and informative place where you can call to receive answers to your questions about ecstasy abuse, find out whether you have an addiction problem, and get started on your way to resolve your problem abuse and any other mental health issues. In fact, when you CALL 1-877-958-9219 you can talk openly and honestly about your situation. Judgement free!
Drug treatment center – The majority of ecstasy addiction treatment centers accept patients who are addicted to ecstasy and offer an ecstasy detox, plus a number of supportive services to ensure a safe and comfortable quitting.
Pharmacists – A pharmacist at your local pharmacy can help fill prescriptions for medicines used to treat ecstasy addiction. Or, even suggest over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies that can help any minor symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal.
Physicians – Your primary physician can be your first point of contact and can quickly determine the severity of your ecstasy abuse. They can also treat ecstasy overdose and refer you to ecstasy addiction treatment center fit for your needs.
Psychiatrists – These mental health specialists provide psychiatric help for people addicted to ecstasy.
Licensed clinical psychologist – Psychologists provide counselling and education. These sessions are important in helping ecstasy users achieve and maintain sobriety.
Licensed clinical social worker – These professionals can be an important source of help and support. They can monitor people recovering from ecstasy outside the treatment facility, and provide referrals to other public services.
Addiction specialists – Doctors who are Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS) can help people with recurrent or chronic problems with ecstasy abuse. They also work with individuals diagnosed multi-drug addiction.
Got any questions?
Please feel free to let us know if you have other additional questions about ecstasy abuse and its treatment. We’ll be happy to respond to you personally and promptly.