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What are the Risks of Ecstasy Use?

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Despite the name, the “party drug” ecstasy is a stimulant that can damage the delicate nerve cells in the brain. The drug dates back to 1914 when Merck Pharmaceuticals created methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). The drug was used widely until 1986 when studies showed it damaged brain cells.

MDMA — sometimes known on the street as E, Adam, XTC, Doves, or more commonly, ecstasy — went through a phase where it was misused as a drug on the dance and bar scene. However, ecstasy misuse and the damage this drug can cause is nothing to party about.

Ecstasy Misuse in the US

At first, an ecstasy tablet may feel like fun. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)reports some of the symptoms are a sense of well being, emotional warmth, increased extroversion and even a “willingness to discuss emotionally-charged memories.” But these pleasurable feelings can quickly become uncomfortable and even life-threatening. These physical symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Drugs like ecstasy are often taken in clubs and are followed by intense physical activity on the dance floor. NIDA says this could trigger one of the most severe results, an increase in body temperature. Even small amounts of ecstasy can block the body’s ability to control temperature and a life-threatening problem called hyperthermia can occur. The drug can also cause the heart to pump inefficiently, which is dangerous during physical activity.

Typically, MDMA takes about 45 minutes to kick in, but when the drug wears off, typical symptoms of ecstasy misuse include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Depersonalization or feeling detached from oneself
  • Nausea
  • Involuntary jaw clenching
  • A headache
  • Sweating
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Restless legs

Ecstasy misuse can also make you unable to perceive distance and motion, which makes it dangerous to perform complex tasks such as driving a car.

Despite being a “love drug,” Ecstasy misuse often results in hospital visits. An NCBI study stated, “Ecstasy consumption frequently leads to an ED (emergency department) visit, sometimes due to severe medical complications, and at least 15 percent of patients will need urgent care again for drug-related problems within the next three years.”

Statistics have shown that the drug’s popularity peaked from 2005 to 2011, with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reporting an increase in ED visits of 128 percent in the United States. NIDAreported that ecstasy misuse has been declining but that the drug is still frequently used by teens.

Ecstasy Misuse and Addiction

Ecstasy misuse and addiction trigger the brain centers that cause pleasure. Ecstasy alters the brain in a way that leaves the person wanting more. Ecstasy can come in pill form but also in a power called “Molly.” The powder form of Ecstasy is reputed to be more potent, but in fact, it is often mixed with other chemicals so people aren’t sure exactly what they are getting. Molly could be mixed with anything from cocaine or heroin to caffeine or even rat poison.

If you or any of your loved ones struggle with a substance use disorder, we can help. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to learn more about admissions.