Ecstasy Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Ecstasy, a synthetic drug produced illegally, is used by many for its ability to enhance well-being and promote a sense of emotional connection with others. Initially popular in the rave and party scene, its use has now spread to a variety of other environments. 

Using ecstasy is associated with a range of negative side effects and health complications. While it’s still unclear whether ecstasy can be classified as addictive, it can certainly cause issues for many people. Those struggling with problems related to ecstasy use often find that professional treatment can offer the necessary support and therapies to begin the journey toward recovery.

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Ecstasy Abuse Signs

Behavioral changes are often the first indicators of ecstasy abuse. These may include an increased desire to attend parties or raves, a newfound group of friends who also use ecstasy, or uncharacteristic secrecy about activities and whereabouts.

The person may also start struggling at work or school, with increased absences or reduced interest in responsibilities. 

Financial issues may arise due to the costs associated with purchasing ecstasy and partying. 

Legal problems may also emerge, including arrests for possession or behavior while under the influence of ecstasy.

Ecstasy Abuse Symptoms

The symptoms of ecstasy abuse can manifest both physically and psychologically.

  • Dilated pupils: Ecstasy use often results in enlarged pupils which are a direct response to the drug’s stimulation of the nervous system.
  • Involuntary teeth clenching: This symptom, known as bruxism, is a common side effect of ecstasy, possibly due to increased anxiety and altered brain chemistry.
  • Nausea: Many people experience stomach discomfort and a feeling of sickness as a result of ecstasy’s impact on the digestive system.
  • Blurred vision: Ecstasy can affect vision, leading to difficulty focusing or seeing clearly.
  • Chills and sweating: The drug can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate temperature, causing sudden chills or excessive sweating, even without physical exertion.
  • Fatigue: After the stimulating effects of ecstasy wear off, people often feel extremely tired due to the intense energy expenditure and lack of rest.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns: Despite fatigue, ecstasy can lead to insomnia or unrefreshing sleep, impacting the body’s ability to recover.
  • Mood swings: Ecstasy affects serotonin levels in the brain, triggering rapid changes in mood and emotional instability.
  • Anxiety and depression: As the drug’s euphoric effects fade, some people may experience heightened anxiety and a deep sense of depression, referred to as the crash or comedown.
  • Memory problems: Regular use can impair cognitive functions, especially memory retention and recall.
  • Paranoia and psychosis-like symptoms: In some cases, prolonged use may lead to paranoia or symptoms that mirror psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.
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How Is Ecstasy Abused?

Ecstasy is typically abused for its euphoric and sensory-enhancing effects. It’s most commonly ingested in pill or tablet form. Ecstasy pills often have colorful imprints and catchy names. Some people may crush the tablets, snorting the powder for a quicker onset of effects. Others might dissolve the powder in a liquid to drink. 

Abuse of ecstasy also occurs in social settings beyond the stereotypical rave scene. The drug is increasingly found at parties, clubs, and even in more casual social gatherings to enhance the mood and increase sociability and feelings of closeness with others. People often take ecstasy in combination with other substances like alcohol or marijuana, a practice that increases the risk of adverse and unpredictable effects.

The abuse of ecstasy is not only about the method of intake but also the frequency and context in which it is used. Repeated use, especially in high doses or in combination with other drugs, constitutes abuse and raises the risk of potential harm and the development of substance use disorder (the clinical term for addiction).

Consequences of Ecstasy Abuse

Addiction and misuse of ecstasy can lead to several risks. Withdrawal is one uncomfortable effect, with symptoms manifesting when someone stops or reduces their use of ecstasy. These symptoms can include feeling depressed, very tired, losing appetite, and having difficulty focusing.

Another risk is using ecstasy with other drugs – polysubstance use. This can happen by mistake if ecstasy is mixed with other drugs, or on purpose by those seeking to intensify effects. Ecstasy is often used with cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, which can be very dangerous. Using it with stimulants like cocaine can increase the risk of brain and liver damage, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and overdoses. Mixing ecstasy with alcohol or marijuana can also lead to an array of adverse outcomes, including addiction.

The dangers of abusing ecstasy include serious health issues that can be long-term or happen days or weeks after the last use. These complications include panic attacks, a very high body temperature, dehydration, muscle breakdown leading to kidney injury, electrolyte imbalances causing brain swelling, heart problems, and harm to an unborn baby if used during pregnancy. In some rare cases, an overdose of ecstasy can be deadly.

Frequent use of ecstasy can also cause problems in other areas of life, including legal issues, money troubles, damaged relationships, and problems at home, school, or work.

Getting Treatment for Ecstasy Abuse

Treatment for ecstasy abuse typically begins with a thorough assessment by a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate level of care. This can range from outpatient programs, where people attend therapy sessions around their daily commitments, to more intensive inpatient programs that offer around-the-clock care in a controlled environment.

Detoxification is often the first stage of treatment, helping individuals safely withdraw from ecstasy under medical supervision. Following detox, various therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), group therapy, and family counseling can be instrumental in addressing the underlying reasons for drug use and developing healthier coping mechanisms.

Support groups, whether peer-led or professional, provide ongoing encouragement and a sense of community that can be highly beneficial during recovery. After the completion of treatment, aftercare planning, which may include ongoing therapy and support group participation, helps people maintain their sobriety and prevent relapse.

Treatment is not one-size-fits-all, so personalizing the approach to fit an individual’s unique needs, lifestyle, and circumstances offers the best chance of long-term recovery from ecstasy abuse.

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Get Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction at California Detox

We treat all addictions and mental health conditions at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA, including ecstasy addiction.

Most people withdrawing from drugs or alcohol find that supervised detoxification provides the smoothest pathway to ongoing recovery. At California Detox, our medical detox program reduces the intensity of the withdrawal process and helps you address the issue of physical dependence. After a week or so, you can move to an ongoing inpatient treatment program at our beachside facility.

All addictions are unique, so all California Detox treatment programs offer an individualized blend of treatments that include:

Start moving beyond a life constrained by club drug addiction. Call 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance.



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