Ecstasy Addiction: A Real Problem With A Solution
Ecstasy addiction is less likely in comparison to getting ‘hooked’ on more addictive substances such as cocaine or meth. However, laboratory studies have found that animals will self-administer the drug, which is usually a strong indication that a substance is addictive.
In addition to animal studies, many users have reported experiencing trouble controlling their use and seek out treatment at addiction centers. Those who use ecstasy along with other drugs (including cocaine or marijuana) may especially benefit from treatment for poly-substance abuse.
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Although some sources say that ecstasy is not physically addictive or habit-forming, addiction to ecstasy is real, and it can happen to anyone who abuses the drug chronically and long term. Read more here about MDMA’s addictive potential, addiction, and its treatment. At the end, we welcome you to send us your questions and we’ll do our best to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.
What Is Ecstasy Addiction?
Addiction can be defined as the compulsive use of ecstasy despite repeated negative consequences on health, interpersonal relationships, social life, and responsibilities at work, school or home. So, it’s safe to say that you are addicted to ecstasy if you cannot control or stop use even though it creates repeated problems in your life.
How Do You Get Addicted To Ecstasy?
A lot of people are introduced to ecstasy (or MDMA) due to peer pressure and by attending events that permit the use of drugs. Ecstasy is commonly used recreationally in events such as raves, concerts and parties, and possibly in combination with other drugs and alcohol…which further increases the risk of a substance use problem.
Addiction can develop over time and as repeated use introduces chemical changes in the brain. MDMA stimulates three of the brain’s neurotransmitters associated with euphoria, pleasure, and motivation. They are:
- dopamine – a neurotransmitter that stimulates the reward circuit of the brain, causes euphoria, and increased energy.
- serotonin – a neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, sleep, sexual arousal and emotional closeness.
- norepinephrine – a neurotransmitter also called noradrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure.
When ecstasy is used, the effects of these neurotransmitters are highly exaggerated, and this mix of ecstatic high and pleasure is what people may continue to seek out.
Addiction To Ecstasy: What’s It Like?
Here is a rephrased story of a teenager that started using ecstasy at a very young age. Her story shows how drugs ruined her life, and how she got back on her feet with treatment.
“I first used ‘E’ when I was 12 years old. It happened because I saw my friend’s older sibling do it, so I took the drug to fit in to the crowd. I realized that you don’t stop once you started using drugs, and you don’t want to be outside the crowd that does it.
‘E’ effectively destroyed my inhibitions, and I did everything that made me happy. Under its influence, I engaged in unprotected sex with guys who I don’t know how many girls they’ve been with, and I had to get tested for HIV. I had a boyfriend (he was 18, and I was 15 at that time) and he gave me ‘E’ and other drugs. We underwent many risks due to my age. Whenever cops pulled us over, I had to stick the paraphernalia in my bra or down my pants.
I was hooked to multiple drugs including ‘E’. Consciously, I knew that my drug use hurt my parents; the people who I knew loved me the most out of anybody. However, I did not notice a drug problem at that time because I didn’t want to know that I have one.
Of course, I got caught and arrested. I was sentenced to juvenile prison for two gruelling weeks after which I was admitted to a residential treatment as ordered by the court. The rehab made us all equals as we were all there to get help, and we understood one another. My stay in the rehab helped me regain back my life and stay away from drugs, so I started school again.
I went back at the rehab, not as a patient, but as an employee. I now assist visitors in the facility, answer phone calls and maintain logs of activity.”
How Is Ecstasy Addiction Diagnosed?
The chronic and harmful use of ecstasy, or any other drug, can be diagnosed as addiction if it fits the description of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria for addiction. Addiction criteria include the following 10 behaviors:
- Being unable to stop thinking about the next time you will use ecstasy.
- Continuing to use despite relationship problems and pleas from family and friends to stop.
- Engaging in risky behaviors due to ecstasy use (such as unprotected sex).
- Experiencing physical cravings for ecstasy.
- Hiding ecstasy stashes around the home.
- Neglecting responsibilities to attend parties where ecstasy will be available.
- Relationship problems due to drug use.
- Taking ecstasy at times other than when you are at a party or a club.
- Taking frequent and increased amounts of the drug.
- Using ecstasy despite repeated negative consequences.
Your doctor will also run necessary physical exams and examine your medical history before they diagnose ecstasy addiction. So, be ready to do an interview with your doctor and do your best to answer all questions honestly.
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Treatment of Ecstasy Addiction
Treatment for ecstasy addiction can happen in a drug treatment facility, or in the person’s home.
1. Assessment. Before your ecstasy abuse treatment can begin, you will have to undergo medical examination, so doctors can assess your level of ecstasy dependence and see if ecstasy use has caused any health problems that require specialized treatment.
2. Medical Detox. During the ecstasy detoxification or detox process, all traces of the drug are removed from your body, and withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur. While undergoing ecstasy withdrawal at a medical detox center, health professionals provide medicines and supportive care to ease these acute symptoms and increase your chances of recovery.
3. Therapy and Counseling. During your treatment program you will be scheduled to perform and finish several therapeutic activities each day. These activities have goals that serve to help break patterns and root causes that drive your addictive behavior. Usually, they consist of:
- Behavioral therapies (such as Cognitive Behaviroal Therapy or CBT) that can help identify stressors and situations that promote drug use, and counter them with effective and productive coping mechanisms. Counselling can additionally help determine emotional issues that drive ecstasy use.
- Therapeutic talks with a licensed psychotherapist help determine your interests, which can be useful in choosing hobbies and other more productive activities in exchange for drug use.
- Group therapy helps you receive and give support and share experiences to others who are also recovering from drug addiction.
- Family therapy provides counselling to you and your family so you’ll have the right support from the right persons in your journey to recovery.