While ecstasy doesn’t cause severe physical dependency as opioids do, it can result in addiction. Ecstasy use can trigger psychological dependence and compulsive behaviors related to its use.
When people decide to try something new at a party, such as ecstasy, they may underestimate its effects. After all, ecstasy is well-known in popular culture.
It goes by various nicknames, such as E, XTC, Molly, or love drug. How could something that sounds so mild be that bad
MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), better known as ecstasy, is a drug that does not occur in nature. It can only be manufactured and purchased unlawfully.
The most popular way to consume ecstasy is to swallow a tablet or pill. It takes about an hour for ecstasy to start affecting a user, and total effects could last between three and six hours.
Ecstasy has such a powerful effect on the brain that its impact could linger for at least a week after ingestion.
The Government of Canada says its powerful effects could include hallucinations, and it can affect the body similarly to methamphetamine substances.
People who take ecstasy normally experience the following:
This sounds great on paper, but if ecstasy is taken routinely, people can become tolerant to or dependent on the drug.
Tolerance causes a person to seek out higher doses of a drug, so it can continue being effective. Essentially, the same dosage doesn’t produce the same results any longer.
Dependence means the body gets used to the presence of a drug to perform certain functions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that some people report addiction to ecstasy.
Ecstasy is unregulated and sold in tablets of various strengths. It may contain other ingredients that could increase the odds of becoming addicted or cause health complications.
Most users do not test their supply of MDMA for purity.
Ecstasy influences the part of the brain that deals with controlling impulses. Since impulse control and judgment may be affected, it can make it easier for a person to become dependent on the drug.
A 2013 case study from Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation mentions that many ecstasy users still believe the drug cannot cause dependence or misuse. In reality, ecstasy has the potential to form both physical and psychological dependency.
Its psychological effects occur because of the way it affects the brain. Ecstasy causes the brain to release a large number of neurotransmitters that affect a person’s sense of well-being and pleasure.
After its euphoric impacts lessen, people who use ecstasy may feel differently because the chemical balance in their brains is now different.
When someone uses MDMA, it causes changes in serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in certain ways.
Scientists currently believe the feelings of euphoria caused by ecstasy could stem from the high levels of serotonin released in the brain when under its influence. Ecstasy also has a well-documented comedown or crash.
Ecstasy crashes are known to cause depression, and this could be because the drug causes serotonin imbalances. A rush of serotonin is released to make a person feel happier. The brain needs to rest after churning out this much serotonin, causing users to feel depressed or down after ecstasy’s effects are over.
The journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation says that ecstasy causes symptoms of withdrawal and may cause a person to seek it compulsively. These are hallmarks of addiction.
The drug also has additional physical consequences.
Along with its consequences on the brain, ecstasy affects the body.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse mentions that a person can feel the impact of ecstasy for up to a full week after using it. Part of this may be that users tend to take a second dose of MDMA a few hours after taking their first tablet.
The following are some of the physical consequences someone can expect:
Ecstasy has an effect on a person’s temperature and makes it easier to suffer heatstroke. Increased temperature is dangerous for the kidneys and liver, according to the Government of Canada. The fact that ecstasy is often used in crowded dance clubs and raves compounds this issue.
Physical dependence on MDMA is rare in comparison to its psychological consequences. Ecstasy users should be aware that it can produce feelings of withdrawal, however.
In 2014, NIDA conducted the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which found a few patterns regarding ecstasy use and abuse.
A 2016 study on teens found that its use was declining because ecstasy was harder to buy.
A 2014 study published in Substance Use and Misuse looked at statistics for high school students at that time and found the following:
The study also found that MDMA is not as popular as it was in the 2000s. NIDA lists alcohol and marijuana as the most popular drugs overall, and ecstasy use rates are far lower than rates for these substances.
Scientific research shows that ecstasy dependence is not as extreme as dependence on other drugs, but it is still possible to experience it and become addicted.
As stated by NIDA, regular users of ecstasy report symptoms common to addiction. These include:
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(June 2018) MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
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