Ecstasy Addiction — Abuse And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 1, 2020

Ecstasy addiction is caused by ecstasy abuse. Both can lead to dangerous consequences, including risk of overdose. Treatment for ecstasy addiction works to address damage to physical and mental health, as well as prepare a person for a lasting recovery.

Ecstasy Addiction And Treatment Options

Ecstasy addiction is a mental reliance on the illicit drug ecstasy, or a brain disorder characterized by obsession with seeking and using the drug.

Ecstasy had higher rates of abuse in past decades, known as a common party drug. While the use of ecstasy has declined, those who abuse the drug still experience adverse effects, including addiction and risk of overdose.

Treatment for ecstasy abuse and addiction may involve behavioral therapy and counseling within an intensive program.

What Is Ecstasy And How Is It Abused?

Ecstasy is an illicit (illegal) stimulant-hallucinogenic drug. This means the drug has chemical properties that produce effects similar to both stimulants, like cocaine, and hallucinogens, like LSD.

The technical term for Ecstasy is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), but it may also be called Molly (in its purest form), E, or X.

Since Ecstasy is an illicit drug, all use of it is considered abuse. Individuals obtain Ecstasy illegally from sellers on the street, usually in pill or capsule form.

However, Ecstasy can also be found as a liquid. Pills and capsules are commonly crushed and snorted for faster onset of effects.

While each person’s experience may differ slightly, common effects of Ecstasy include:

  • alertness
  • increased energy
  • pleasurable feelings (euphoria)
  • distortions of time and sensory perceptions
  • warm feelings

Signs And Symptoms Of Ecstasy Abuse

The most common signs of Ecstasy abuse include the effects of the drug: feelings of warmth and pleasure and increased levels of alertness and energy.

Individuals abusing Ecstasy may also experience behavioral, mental, or physical changes that signal abuse.

Additional signs and symptoms of ecstasy abuse may include:

  • being more social
  • higher awareness of tactile “touch” sensations
  • increased empathy levels
  • increased self-esteem
  • jaw clenching
  • teeth grinding
  • unusual amounts of energy and alertness

Why Do People Abuse Ecstasy?

There are a number of reasons an individual may abuse Ecstasy. The drug is often abused for its most well-known, perceived positive effects, such as pleasure and warmth.

Those who abuse ecstasy often find that it gives them lowered inhibitions, which in turn leads to a greater sense of self-esteem, increased levels of confidence, and sociability.

A person who is not usually outgoing may appear more so while abusing Ecstasy and may continue abusing the drug to seek these effects again and again.

Further, Ecstasy gives increased awareness of certain feelings and perceptions, such as the sense of touch and perception of time. Individuals may chase and become addicted to these strange feelings.

Finally, many abuse Ecstasy in combination with other drugs (polydrug abuse), seeking a combined high from mixing the drugs.

Side Effects Of Ecstasy Abuse

Abuse of Ecstasy can result in both short-term and long-term effects on health and behavior. Side effects may be emotional, physical, psychological, or behavioral.

How long side effects last depends on a few factors, including the amount of ecstasy abused, if ecstasy was mixed with another substance, and more.

Short-term side effects of Ecstasy abuse include:

  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • chills
  • depression
  • irritability
  • increased body temperature
  • increased heart rate
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle cramps
  • sleep troubles
  • upset stomach
  • vision troubles

Short-term side effects may last from three to six hours unless individuals abuse a second dose of Ecstasy to continue experiencing effects.

Long-term effects include damage to health from repeated use of the drug, such as strain on the heart (due to increased heart rate and body temperature).

Other long-term side effects of Ecstasy abuse include:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • lethargy
  • memory loss
  • severe depression
  • worsened anxiety

Risks Of Long-Term Ecstasy Abuse

As a stimulant, ecstasy abuse can lead to a number of dangers with long-term abuse.

Abusing ecstasy long-term comes with health consequences, such as:

High body temperatures: Having high body temperatures for lengthy periods of time (which happens when individuals abuse multiple consecutive doses of ecstasy) can strain the body as it attempts to regulate temperature.

Organ damage/failure: As the body tries to regulate temperature, organs can fail or be permanently damaged if ecstasy is taken in too high a dose or combined with other, more potent substances.

Crash (low) period: Ecstasy results in a euphoric state, or high period, followed by an extreme low period. This crash leads to extreme anxiety, depression, sleep troubles, and can cause a person to lose their appetite.

Psychotic state: Ecstasy is also a hallucinogen, as it leads individuals abusing it to experience hallucinations. In high or frequent doses, this can induce a psychotic state, resulting in confusion, mania, or aggression.

Risk of exposure to unknown substances: Ecstasy is produced and sold illegally. Individuals buying Ecstasy can never guarantee its purity, meaning they risk taking unknown additives and other substances of abuse.

Overdose: Ecstasy overdose generally stems from too high or too frequent doses of the drug or from combining it with other substances. Mixing Ecstasy and other drugs greatly increases risk of overdose, which can be fatal.

Signs And Symptoms Of Ecstasy Overdose

Ecstasy is not abused as commonly as other more potent drugs, like heroin, but many people seek treatment for Ecstasy abuse and overdose each year.

Individuals on high doses of Ecstasy may experience a psychotic state, which can lead to unpredictable behavior and consequences. When a person mixes Ecstasy and other substances, they are more likely to overdose.

If a person is suspected of an Ecstasy overdose, signs and symptoms may include:

  • chest pain
  • dilated pupils
  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • locked jaw
  • dehydration
  • cardiac arrest
  • heart failure

Ecstasy And Polysubstance Abuse

Taking ecstasy (MDMA) with other substances is known as polysubstance abuse. Abusing multiple drugs at the same time is highly dangerous and can lead to a variety of negative side effects.

Common MDMA drug combinations include:

Treatment Programs For Ecstasy Abuse And Addiction

Treatment for Ecstasy abuse and addiction comes in many forms.

Which program is best for each individual will depend on many factors, such as:

  • severity of Ecstasy abuse
  • duration and frequency of Ecstasy abuse
  • any co-occurring mental health or substance use disorders
  • any specialized treatment needs, such as gender-specific programming

Individuals in treatment for Ecstasy addiction may benefit most from an intensive treatment program.

Intensive treatment comes in several levels with varying benefits and includes residential or inpatient rehab programs, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs.

Because Ecstasy addiction leads to vast changes to behavior and psychological states, treatment for this addiction generally includes behavioral therapy and counseling.

The very best rehab programs are customized according to individual need and integrated to ensure comprehensive care.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Ecstasy addiction, contact us today to learn more about which rehab programs may best fit your needs.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 1, 2020
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