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Friday, October 20, 2017

Ecstasy

Overview

MDMA, known more commonly by its street name “ecstasy” or “molly” is a synthetic stimulant that has
become one of the most popularly used recreational drugs today. Ecstasy use is common in the U.S and
abroad, particularly with younger people and those involved in party and nightclubs scenes. Around half
a million adult Americans are considered regular users.

1.Ecstasy’s primary danger comes from its close
interaction with serotonin, which can frequently lead to overstimulation of serotonin receptors,
resulting in depression and various mood disorders. Ecstasy also maintains some danger due to its
potency, frequency of being cut with dangerous and toxic additives, negative physiological effects, and
how easy it is to build a tolerance to it. MDMA in the form of ecstasy is frequently cut with drugs such as
methamphetamine, cocaine, amphetamines, and even bath salts, which all carry their own particular
dangers when ingested without knowing. Although ecstasy abuse has gone down from its peak in the
1990s, it remains a growing trend among younger groups. Ecstasy exhibits short-term effects similar to
other stimulants including euphoria, decreased appetite, mood shifts, shaking, and increased heart rate.
Long term abuse of ecstasy can lead to a variety of physiological and mental ailments including
depression, chronic tremors, memory problems, and fatigue. There are currently no effective
pharmaceutical treatments for ecstasy abuse, but there are many therapeutic options available to help
manage dangerous and addictive behaviors, and rehabilitation facilities offer extensive resources for
recovering from drug abuse in a safe, stable, and comfortable manner.

What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is one of the most common street drugs used today. Ecstasy holds a reputation for its intense
feelings of euphoria as well as its negative effects on the chemical balance of the brain. Stimulants are a
class of drugs that include dangerous street drugs like ecstasy, common prescription drugs such as
Adderall, and even your ordinary cup of coffee. Although first synthesized in the U.S. during the 1950s,
MDMA remained relatively obscure until its introduction in the rave and nightclub scene of the 1990s in
the pill form known as ecstasy. Although deaths from ecstasy abuse are uncommon, there were a
reported 22,500 emergency room visits attributed to ecstasy in 2011.

2.The real danger of ecstasy comes
in two forms. The first is MDMA’s potent effect on serotonin in the brain, which can be permanently
damaged with only short-term frequent use. The other major danger comes from frequent additives
that are cut into MDMA when taken as ecstasy, which can include other more potent stimulants such as
methamphetamine as well as various chemical additives. Ecstasy is classified as a Schedule I drug by the
Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning that ecstasy has no accepted medical usage and is not
considered safe for use either in clinical or personal settings due to its high potential for abuse.

How Does Ecstasy Work?

MDMA’s dangerous effect on serotonin can be attributed to its ability to mimic serotonin in the brain.
When MDMA is ingested, it becomes taken up into the cell along with serotonin itself, which forces
serotonin out into the synaptic cleft and floods the brain cell with serotonin. This forces the serotonin to
repeatedly bind to serotonin receptors in the brain without the ability to be taken back out of the
synapse. Serotonin is an important neurochemical that is responsible for a great deal of ordinary
neurological functioning such as being used in controlling smooth muscles, bowels, transmitting nerve
impulses, and regulating unconscious body processes, as well as holding its importance in regulating
mood and particularly feelings of happiness and euphoria. The vital necessity of serotonin in regulating
these important processes is what makes ecstasy dangerous. Ecstasy functions along the serotonin
reward pathway, which makes MDMA somewhat addictive, and affects the areas of the brain necessary
for controlling sleep, mood, sensation, and appetite.

Short and Long Term Effects 

MDMA is most often taken orally, whether in capsules containing a crystalline form of MDMA,
or more commonly in a compressed pill form which contains other additives. Onset of effects
varies from around 30 minutes to 2 hours, and is notorious for becoming active much quicker
and more intense than other drugs of its kind.

Users report short-term mental effects such as feelings of:

    • Euphoria
    • Sexual stimulation
    • Decreased inhibitions
    • Rapid mood shifts
    • Decreased anxiety

And physical effects such as:

    • Heightened sense of touch
    • Nausea and dizziness
    • Decreased pain sensation
    • Lowered appetite
    •  Increased heart rate
    • Shaking

Repeated long-term use of ecstasy leads to physical side effects such as:

    • Diminished cardiovascular health – Ecstasy leads to an elevated heart rate, putting a
      great deal of strain on the heart with long term use which can lead to problems such as
      tachycardia and heart arrhythmia, and can increase risk of heart attack.
    • Liver and kidney damage – Frequent use of ecstasy has shown a correlation with an
      increased risk of both kidney and liver disease as the body is not capable of healthily
      processing large quantities of the substance. The use of additives in ecstasy also poses a
      particular threat to the liver and kidneys, as many additives are not meant to be
      ingested.
    • Ineffective thermoregulation – Ecstasy has been shown to affect thermoregulation in
      the body, which can lead to body temperature spikes that can lead to further kidney,
      liver, and heart damage.
    • Insomnia – Due to ecstasy’s stimulating effect, a general decay in personal health, as
      well as frequent interruptions in ordinary circadian activity, ecstasy users often
      experience worsening sleeping problems that can develop into insomnia.
    • Depression – Due to overstimulation of dopamine receptors, ecstasy frequently leads to
      depression due to the brain’s inability to utilize dopamine effectively
    • Anxiety – Anxiety is a frequent symptom of drug abuse in general, and is common in
      ecstasy abuse due to internal factors from the psychological and physical effect of the
      drug itself, as well as external factors such as pressure family, friends, and work that
      may all be affected by addiction. This can compound and develop into chronic paranoia.

Other risks posed by ecstasy abuse include:

    • Heatstroke – A common danger with ecstasy use is heatstroke. Because ecstasy is often
      taken in clubs, nightclubs, and festivals, which are generally hot environments filled with
      vigorous physical activity, and ecstasy both raises body temperature and weakens the
      body’s thermoregulating powers, ecstasy has been known to cause heatstroke and
      dehydration
    • Additives – Ecstasy purchased on the street is often cut with additives to maximize
      profits, including many dangerous and toxic additives. Ecstasy can sometimes be
      boosted with other more potent amphetamines, including Adderall and meth to create
      a stronger affect, as well as a host of fillers that can simply create a higher yield.

Although not life-threatening, MDMA withdrawal can be a difficult process to go through, and
includes withdrawal symptoms such as:

    • Lowered appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Restlessness
    • Depression
    • Loss of concentration
    • Tremors, muscle aches and cramps
    • Memory problems

 

Methods of Treatment

Pharmacological:

Because chemical dependency on MDMA is relatively infrequent, there are no pharmaceutical
treatments currently available for ecstasy abuse.

Therapeutic:

Other forms of treatment for ecstasy addiction come in the form of psychological and behavioral
therapies. These treatments focus on the behaviors and habits that led to addiction in the first place in
an attempt to remove the root of addiction. Amongst these forms of treatment, Cognitive Behavioral
Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common, and is growing in support from the scientific and clinical
communities all the time. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sees substance abuse such as ecstasy addiction
as a symptom of a greater psychological issue, and not a cause in and of itself. By utilizing reflective and
analytic techniques, an addict is better able to understand what led them to addiction in the first place,
change bad habits, and avoid behaviors that may trigger cravings. The twelve-step program is also
available as a long-established method of treating drug and alcohol addiction. The twelve-step program
works as a gradual method of guiding principles and pragmatic steps that can be taken to go from the
depths of addiction and unhealthy habits to sobriety. These twelve steps are aimed at effectively
recovering from compulsive and addictive behaviors, and addressing mental and behavioral problems
that led to addiction in the first place. These twelve steps include both internal and external actions
aimed at making amends for past mistakes, accepting responsibility for the actions that led to addiction,
and moving forward to establish healthy habits and a positive mindset.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation for ecstasy alone is generally uncommon, but may be beneficial for those who abuse
ecstasy frequently and have difficulty stopping dangerous behaviors that lead to its usage.
There are two main types of rehabilitation: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient rehabilitation refers to
programs that require patients to check themselves into a facility where they will undergo all
rehabilitation treatment. Although inpatient rehabilitation requires a greater level of commitment, the facilities, environment, and support offered by these facilities are conducive to a stable and effective
recovery. Inpatient facilities generally offer services such as psychiatrists, counselors, group therapy, and
all of the living facilities necessary for a comfortable stay. The extensive support offered by these
facilities, combined with an environment that is focused on self-improvement and wellness is a great
combination for providing the motivation to push through the difficulties of withdrawal and to establish
good healthy habits to prevent relapsing once you leave. This form of rehabilitation is effective for those
who would benefit from a stricter more scheduled recovery in which the outside distractions and
temptations of life won’t get in the way of focusing on recovery.
Outpatient rehabilitation is based on the principle of spending only part of your time in recovery
programs while offering you the freedom to continue daily living on your own. Generally these programs
will require ten to twelve hours of commitment per week spent in a treatment facility participating in
similar activities to those done in an inpatient facility such as group therapy, counseling, and even detox.
While this does offer easier access to drugs, some may find being able to maintain their normal daily
schedule more beneficial. This form of rehabilitation is effective for those who require more freedom
and contact with friends and family.
Both forms of rehabilitation may be effective solutions at combatting ecstasy abuse, and there is a
variety of different types of both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation to suit the personal needs of
each individual.

References

1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the
United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication
No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50).

2. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 Jan. 2017,
www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

 

 

Ecstasy

Overview

MDMA, known more commonly by its street name “ecstasy” or “molly” is a synthetic stimulant that has
become one of the most popularly used recreational drugs today. Ecstasy use is common in the U.S and
abroad, particularly with younger people and those involved in party and nightclubs scenes. Around half
a million adult Americans are considered regular users.

1.Ecstasy’s primary danger comes from its close
interaction with serotonin, which can frequently lead to overstimulation of serotonin receptors,
resulting in depression and various mood disorders. Ecstasy also maintains some danger due to its
potency, frequency of being cut with dangerous and toxic additives, negative physiological effects, and
how easy it is to build a tolerance to it. MDMA in the form of ecstasy is frequently cut with drugs such as
methamphetamine, cocaine, amphetamines, and even bath salts, which all carry their own particular
dangers when ingested without knowing. Although ecstasy abuse has gone down from its peak in the
1990s, it remains a growing trend among younger groups. Ecstasy exhibits short-term effects similar to
other stimulants including euphoria, decreased appetite, mood shifts, shaking, and increased heart rate.
Long term abuse of ecstasy can lead to a variety of physiological and mental ailments including
depression, chronic tremors, memory problems, and fatigue. There are currently no effective
pharmaceutical treatments for ecstasy abuse, but there are many therapeutic options available to help
manage dangerous and addictive behaviors, and rehabilitation facilities offer extensive resources for
recovering from drug abuse in a safe, stable, and comfortable manner.

What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is one of the most common street drugs used today. Ecstasy holds a reputation for its intense
feelings of euphoria as well as its negative effects on the chemical balance of the brain. Stimulants are a
class of drugs that include dangerous street drugs like ecstasy, common prescription drugs such as
Adderall, and even your ordinary cup of coffee. Although first synthesized in the U.S. during the 1950s,
MDMA remained relatively obscure until its introduction in the rave and nightclub scene of the 1990s in
the pill form known as ecstasy. Although deaths from ecstasy abuse are uncommon, there were a
reported 22,500 emergency room visits attributed to ecstasy in 2011.

2.The real danger of ecstasy comes
in two forms. The first is MDMA’s potent effect on serotonin in the brain, which can be permanently
damaged with only short-term frequent use. The other major danger comes from frequent additives
that are cut into MDMA when taken as ecstasy, which can include other more potent stimulants such as
methamphetamine as well as various chemical additives. Ecstasy is classified as a Schedule I drug by the
Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning that ecstasy has no accepted medical usage and is not
considered safe for use either in clinical or personal settings due to its high potential for abuse.

How Does Ecstasy Work?

MDMA’s dangerous effect on serotonin can be attributed to its ability to mimic serotonin in the brain.
When MDMA is ingested, it becomes taken up into the cell along with serotonin itself, which forces
serotonin out into the synaptic cleft and floods the brain cell with serotonin. This forces the serotonin to
repeatedly bind to serotonin receptors in the brain without the ability to be taken back out of the
synapse. Serotonin is an important neurochemical that is responsible for a great deal of ordinary
neurological functioning such as being used in controlling smooth muscles, bowels, transmitting nerve
impulses, and regulating unconscious body processes, as well as holding its importance in regulating
mood and particularly feelings of happiness and euphoria. The vital necessity of serotonin in regulating
these important processes is what makes ecstasy dangerous. Ecstasy functions along the serotonin
reward pathway, which makes MDMA somewhat addictive, and affects the areas of the brain necessary
for controlling sleep, mood, sensation, and appetite.

Short and Long Term Effects 

MDMA is most often taken orally, whether in capsules containing a crystalline form of MDMA,
or more commonly in a compressed pill form which contains other additives. Onset of effects
varies from around 30 minutes to 2 hours, and is notorious for becoming active much quicker
and more intense than other drugs of its kind.

Users report short-term mental effects such as feelings of:

    • Euphoria
    • Sexual stimulation
    • Decreased inhibitions
    • Rapid mood shifts
    • Decreased anxiety

And physical effects such as:

    • Heightened sense of touch
    • Nausea and dizziness
    • Decreased pain sensation
    • Lowered appetite
    •  Increased heart rate
    • Shaking

Repeated long-term use of ecstasy leads to physical side effects such as:

    • Diminished cardiovascular health – Ecstasy leads to an elevated heart rate, putting a
      great deal of strain on the heart with long term use which can lead to problems such as
      tachycardia and heart arrhythmia, and can increase risk of heart attack.
    • Liver and kidney damage – Frequent use of ecstasy has shown a correlation with an
      increased risk of both kidney and liver disease as the body is not capable of healthily
      processing large quantities of the substance. The use of additives in ecstasy also poses a
      particular threat to the liver and kidneys, as many additives are not meant to be
      ingested.
    • Ineffective thermoregulation – Ecstasy has been shown to affect thermoregulation in
      the body, which can lead to body temperature spikes that can lead to further kidney,
      liver, and heart damage.
    • Insomnia – Due to ecstasy’s stimulating effect, a general decay in personal health, as
      well as frequent interruptions in ordinary circadian activity, ecstasy users often
      experience worsening sleeping problems that can develop into insomnia.
    • Depression – Due to overstimulation of dopamine receptors, ecstasy frequently leads to
      depression due to the brain’s inability to utilize dopamine effectively
    • Anxiety – Anxiety is a frequent symptom of drug abuse in general, and is common in
      ecstasy abuse due to internal factors from the psychological and physical effect of the
      drug itself, as well as external factors such as pressure family, friends, and work that
      may all be affected by addiction. This can compound and develop into chronic paranoia.

Other risks posed by ecstasy abuse include:

    • Heatstroke – A common danger with ecstasy use is heatstroke. Because ecstasy is often
      taken in clubs, nightclubs, and festivals, which are generally hot environments filled with
      vigorous physical activity, and ecstasy both raises body temperature and weakens the
      body’s thermoregulating powers, ecstasy has been known to cause heatstroke and
      dehydration
    • Additives – Ecstasy purchased on the street is often cut with additives to maximize
      profits, including many dangerous and toxic additives. Ecstasy can sometimes be
      boosted with other more potent amphetamines, including Adderall and meth to create
      a stronger affect, as well as a host of fillers that can simply create a higher yield.

Although not life-threatening, MDMA withdrawal can be a difficult process to go through, and
includes withdrawal symptoms such as:

    • Lowered appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Restlessness
    • Depression
    • Loss of concentration
    • Tremors, muscle aches and cramps
    • Memory problems

 

Methods of Treatment

Pharmacological:

Because chemical dependency on MDMA is relatively infrequent, there are no pharmaceutical
treatments currently available for ecstasy abuse.

Therapeutic:

Other forms of treatment for ecstasy addiction come in the form of psychological and behavioral
therapies. These treatments focus on the behaviors and habits that led to addiction in the first place in
an attempt to remove the root of addiction. Amongst these forms of treatment, Cognitive Behavioral
Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common, and is growing in support from the scientific and clinical
communities all the time. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sees substance abuse such as ecstasy addiction
as a symptom of a greater psychological issue, and not a cause in and of itself. By utilizing reflective and
analytic techniques, an addict is better able to understand what led them to addiction in the first place,
change bad habits, and avoid behaviors that may trigger cravings. The twelve-step program is also
available as a long-established method of treating drug and alcohol addiction. The twelve-step program
works as a gradual method of guiding principles and pragmatic steps that can be taken to go from the
depths of addiction and unhealthy habits to sobriety. These twelve steps are aimed at effectively
recovering from compulsive and addictive behaviors, and addressing mental and behavioral problems
that led to addiction in the first place. These twelve steps include both internal and external actions
aimed at making amends for past mistakes, accepting responsibility for the actions that led to addiction,
and moving forward to establish healthy habits and a positive mindset.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation for ecstasy alone is generally uncommon, but may be beneficial for those who abuse
ecstasy frequently and have difficulty stopping dangerous behaviors that lead to its usage.
There are two main types of rehabilitation: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient rehabilitation refers to
programs that require patients to check themselves into a facility where they will undergo all
rehabilitation treatment. Although inpatient rehabilitation requires a greater level of commitment, the facilities, environment, and support offered by these facilities are conducive to a stable and effective
recovery. Inpatient facilities generally offer services such as psychiatrists, counselors, group therapy, and
all of the living facilities necessary for a comfortable stay. The extensive support offered by these
facilities, combined with an environment that is focused on self-improvement and wellness is a great
combination for providing the motivation to push through the difficulties of withdrawal and to establish
good healthy habits to prevent relapsing once you leave. This form of rehabilitation is effective for those
who would benefit from a stricter more scheduled recovery in which the outside distractions and
temptations of life won’t get in the way of focusing on recovery.
Outpatient rehabilitation is based on the principle of spending only part of your time in recovery
programs while offering you the freedom to continue daily living on your own. Generally these programs
will require ten to twelve hours of commitment per week spent in a treatment facility participating in
similar activities to those done in an inpatient facility such as group therapy, counseling, and even detox.
While this does offer easier access to drugs, some may find being able to maintain their normal daily
schedule more beneficial. This form of rehabilitation is effective for those who require more freedom
and contact with friends and family.
Both forms of rehabilitation may be effective solutions at combatting ecstasy abuse, and there is a
variety of different types of both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation to suit the personal needs of
each individual.

References

1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the
United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication
No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50).

2. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 Jan. 2017,
www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates