Ecstasy

Ecstasy powerful drug

Defining Ecstasy

The active ingredient in ecstasy, MDMA, is a drug with empathogenic and stimulant properties. MDMA has potential clinical uses especially in the treatment of stress disorders and was once used in therapy due to these empathogenic effects. Ecstasy acts on receptors in the brain to increase levels of various neurochemicals. Increased serotonin caused by ecstasy use is associated with increased alertness, happiness, and wakefulness. Ecstasy increases dopamine levels, leading to a pleasurable response and a desire to repeat the action that led to the dopamine increase.

Currently its use is most closely associated with electronic music and rave culture. “Molly,” MDMA powder, is typically considered to be purer than the MDMA containing ecstasy pills, though this may be anecdotal. Often, Ecstasy pills and Molly are combined with other substances like methamphetamines. Touching certain things or other people may be more enjoyable and often lights and colors seem more vivid.

Side effects occur within the first twenty minutes of use and can last for up to 6 hours. There is evidence that MDMA activates brain cells that release the neurochemical oxytocin, known colloquially as “the love hormone,” which is responsible for emotional bonding and attachment. Ecstasy tends to enhance these feelings in users.

Side Effects of Ecstasy

Short-Term

  • Euphoria
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired judgment
  • Heightened enthusiasm
  • Jaw clenching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Increased sensory perception
  • Increased responsiveness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased blood pressure

Long-Term

  • Impaired memory
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Decrease in learning ability, memory, and attention

Addiction and Overdose

If used in excess, ecstasy can be highly addictive. Increased use of ecstasy may also lead to drug dependency and cravings, so that it becomes difficult to go a day without taking the drug. If taken with certain medications, the increased serotonin levels may lead to serotonin, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia
  • Kidney failure
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Death

The two main causes of death from ecstasy are hyperthermia and hyponatremia. Ecstasy raises levels of vasopressin which regulates how much water your body retains. Increasing it may account for hyponatremia as the body retains more water. As ecstasy is often taken at raves, people may get thirsty and drink water. However, they may run the risk of overhydrating and developing hyponatremia or when the concentration of sodium in your blood gets too low. In this case as a result of diluting the blood with the extra retained water combined with overhydration.

Treatment

There is no specific medication designed to treat ecstasy addiction or manage withdrawal symptoms. Few ecstasy users report cravings or have trouble quitting compared to other drugs, but those that do would be advised to seek out a drug treatment center to help manage withdrawal and help prevent a relapse.

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