Help for Ecstasy Addicts
The full name for ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. It is a synthetic drug that has psychoactive effects on users. It is produced and available in many forms. It is similar chemically to the hallucinogen mescaline and the stimulant methamphetamine.
Ecstasy is a central nervous system stimulant with mild hallucinogenic effects. This means that it can produce a sped up effect on the body while changing the user’s perceptions. The substance often contains a variety of unknown additives including corn starch, detergent, amphetamines, caffeine, and/or aspirin, which leads to dosing issues and unintended and dangerous side effects in the user. Someone addicted to this drug will often require treatment to stop using. Fortunately, a number of options exist for those seeking treatment for themselves or someone they care about. These options can include inpatient rehab, outpatient therapy, 12-step programs, and more.
How to Approach an Addicted Loved One
The first step to recovery is starting a conversation about treatment. This conversation may be an intervention, and while many people associate intervention with “ambush,” this is simply not the case. Interventions will ideally come from a place of love, support, and genuine concern for the individual.
Another resource to help you start the conversation is Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT). This approach teaches family members and friends of substance abusers the skills to communicate effectively and positively.
CRAFT has demonstrated success in helping to encourage loved ones to enter a treatment program. CRAFT helps friends and family learn to:
- Solve problems.
- Avoid enabling behaviors.
- Set healthy boundaries.
- Communicate effectively.
If you are a part of the user’s social network and you’ve been enabling them, it’s important to stop these behaviors and set healthy boundaries. Enabling behaviors may include:
- Making excuses for the addicted individual.
- Giving them money to buy drugs.
- Driving them to meet with their dealer.
It can be difficult to change your behavior and maintain consistent boundaries, but doing so can lead to positive change. CRAFT, support groups for family members of addicted individuals (e.g., Nar-Anon), and family therapy can all help you learn to support your loved one in a productive way.
Ecstasy Addiction Treatment
When deciding on a treatment option for an addiction to ecstasy, it is important to consider what type of program will fit your needs. Before choosing a program, you may want to meet with an addiction counselor. Counselors can help make an educated decision about which treatment will work best for you. Recovery options from ecstasy may include:
- Inpatient rehabilitation.
- Outpatient rehabilitation.
- Outpatient individual, group, and family therapy.
- Group meetings.
Rehabilitation will include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which will help you come to understand:
- Ecstasy addiction.
- The underlying contributors to your use and addiction.
- Healthy methods to cope with cravings and prevent relapse.
After initial treatment, many recovering ecstasy addicts find benefit from joining a recovery group, such as 12-step programs like NA. Attending group meetings is helpful in reaching long-term sobriety and provides a strong supportive network of individuals invested in living a sober life. Meeting others going through recovery may also help encourage you to join healthy, sober social activities.
What Happens When I Take Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is a drug that is a favorite among members of the party scene. It is a drug that makes the user feel energetic, happy, and euphoric. It is also associated with distortions in perceptions, physical touch, and time.
Ecstasy works by binding itself to serotonin transporters. This action leads to an overproduction of serotonin in the brain. It has the same effect on norepinephrine and dopamine levels. These chemically induced imbalances in the brain affect the mood and perceptions of the user. The substance will impact feelings of love and intimacy.
The drug also has a number of unwanted effects. Uncomfortable physical side effects of ecstasy include:
- Body chills.
- Muscle cramping.
- Blurred vision.
Ecstasy can also cause the user to become confused, depressed, anxious, and sleepless. It also affects the cognition and memory of users. Cravings can also occur. These effects take place after use in differing degrees. Some users experience these effects hours after taking it, while others can have them days or weeks later.
Quote from a Former Ecstasy User
It was the most amazing feeling I had ever felt. From there it all snowballed. I went from using one pill a night to as many as 13. At the time, I had a good amount of money put away, and I was traveling a lot, partying hard everywhere I went. At my worst, I partied for twenty hours straight, did ecstasy, special K, weed, and GHB, and ended up in a house full of complete strangers, totally wasted. After a year of partying, my money was gone, and I fell into a deep depression. I considered suicide many times, and seemed to only be content when I was wasted, leaving my problems behind.
Is Ecstasy Addictive?
Studies have shown that ecstasy can be an addictive drug to users, but the findings vary. Some studies show that prolonged and frequent use can lead to increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, NIDA notes that experiments on animals have found that animals will self-administer MDMA, which is an indicator of the drug’s addictive potential.
Ecstasy can be addicting because of the pleasurable feelings it induces and the brain chemicals in interacts with. Signs of addiction to ecstasy include using in the face of negative consequences, such as decreased performance at work, troubled relationship or financial issues due to using.
Withdrawal symptoms are another sign of use and may include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Feelings of depression.
- Impaired concentration.
Heavy users commonly use other drugs in addition to ecstasy. If you love someone you suspect of being addicted, it’s important to watch for the warning signs of drug abuse, keeping in mind that varying effects may be present due to poly-substance abuse.
Am I Addicted to Ecstasy?
Am I addicted to ecstasy?
I think about ecstasy a lot, particularly when I don’t have any.
I’ve stolen or lied to get more ecstasy.
I hide my ecstasy use from others.
I cannot imagine not taking ecstasy when I go out.
Addiction is marked by the continued use of ecstasy even when negative situations present.
- Someone developing an addiction to ecstasy may display:
- Diminished relationship quality.
- Increased focused on obtaining the substance.
- Reduced interest in previous interests.
- Lack of motivation to fulfill personal responsibilities.
If you find you’re unable to stop using even though you notice ecstasy use has taken an enormous toll on your life, you may be addicted.
MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly). (n.d.). http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. (n.d.). http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/mdma.pdf
Is MDMA Addictive? (n.d.). http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/mdma-ecstasy-abuse/mdma-addictive.
Kingston, A. H., Morgan, A. J., Jorm, A. F., Hall, K., Hart, L. M., Kelly, C. M., & Lubman, D. I. (2011). Helping someone with problem drug use: a Delphi consensus study of consumers, carers, and clinicians. BMC psychiatry,11(1), 1. http://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-11-3 .
Meyers, R. J., Smith, J. E., & Lash, D. N. (2005). A program for engaging treatment-refusing substance abusers into treatment: CRAFT. International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy, 1(2). 90-100.
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