In the past few years, countless news sources and other major social media outlets have laid out the fact that we are experiencing a drug epidemic in our country. With every day that passes, it seems as though a new drug of choice has become “the new fix” and it adds to the growing list of substances that cause worry among health professionals, lawmakers, and parents nationwide. One of the drugs in which use is constantly on the rise–and especially among young people–is ecstasy.
Over last two decades, the drug has gone from being a relatively unknown drug to becoming one of the four most widely used illicit drugs in the United States. The rise of ecstasy seemingly happened overnight, transitioning from underground parties and into mainstream America. Popular both for its feel-good effects and easy availability at parties, ecstasy is one of the fastest spreading drugs in the United States. It is one of the most widely used drugs for young people aged 18 to 25.
What is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy–also known as Molly or MDMA–is a synthetic drug that has properties of both amphetamine and the hallucinogenic drug mescaline. For those who take the drug, they can experience feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others as well as distortions in sensory and time perception. Ecstasy was originally developed by Merck pharmaceutical company in 1912 and was used in bye the US Army in the 1950’s for psychological warfare experiments. Ecstasy resurfaced in the next decade as a psychotherapy medication to “lower inhibitions and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the drug was being used as a recreational drug.
In the 1980’s the popularity of ecstasy exploded as the rave scene grew in both Europe and later the United States. Raves are high energy, all-night dances that are found in most metropolitan areas and increasingly in rural areas throughout the country. These dance parties are held in permanent dance clubs, abandoned warehouses, open fields, or empty buildings. While these parties are often billed as alcohol and drug-free, raves are often overcrowded and a substantial percentage of rave-goers are either under the influence of substances or are selling substances.
Despite the dangers associated with its use, ecstasy continues to be popular among young people. It is estimated that 12.3% of Americans aged 18 to 25 say they have tried ecstasy at some point in their lives while 4.1% have used the drug in the past year. According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey, 7.2% of 12th graders have tried ecstasy at some point in their lives; 3.8% have used the drug in the past year. In contrast, only 2% of eight graders have tried ecstasy in their lives with only 1.1% using the drug in the past year.
The Health Effects Of Ecstasy
Both the short and long-term health effects of ecstasy are pronounced and potentially life-threatening. In regards to the short-term effects, users can experience the following symptoms:
- Impaired judgment
- False sense of affection
- Sleep problems
- Severe anxiety
- Drug cravings
- Muscle tension
- Faintness and chills or swelling
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Blurred vision
As for long-term health effects, ecstasy users can experience:
- Long-lasting brain damage affecting thought and memory
- Damage to portions of the brain that regulate critical functions such as learning, sleep and emotion
- It is as if the brain switchboard was torn apart, then rewired backwards
- Degenerated nerve branches and nerve endings
- Depression, anxiety, memory loss
- Kidney failure
- Cardiovascular1 collapse
Other Dangers Associated With Ecstasy Use
in addition to the short and long term effects, there are also other dangers associated with ecstasy use. Individuals who use ecstasy in conjunction with alcohol and other drugs are at increased risk for deadly overdose. Alcohol and ecstasy disrupt body temperature regulation and impairs an individual’s judgment, which increases the likelihood that individuals will take use more of the drug which can result in a greater risk for an overdose. Ecstasy users also use the drug in conjunction with cocaine and heroin and users can experience extreme swings of emotions, panic and paranoia. When users withdraw from the drug, they can experience depression and anxiety to a severe enough degree in which they take the drug repeatedly to stay high.
If you are looking to break your ecstasy addiction, the best way to accomplish that is undergoing medical detoxification at a qualified and clean detox center under the supervision of medical professionals. Experienced medical staff will be able to prescribe medication to help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms and help you become both medically stable and substance free. After medical detox, undergoing treatment at an impatient rehab center is highly recommended since you will benefit from being in a controlled environment as you quit ecstasy and cope with the after-effects of your use and addiction.
You Can Have Fun Without Ecstasy
For those who take ecstasy, the feelings of euphoria, energy and empathy are very strong and users often have strong feelings of connection and love with others. These feelings of floating and warmth, while real to the ecstasy user, come at a terrible price. The environments in which use of the drug is common can be nightmarish when things go wrong. If you or a loved one is taking ecstasy and want to quit, you may wonder if you will be able to have fun and be truly happy without it…the answer is definitely yes.
If you undergo drug treatment at an inpatient facility, you have the time to focus on the root causes of your ecstasy addiction. During your time in treatment, you can rediscover the person that you were before your ecstasy addiction and rekindle those passions that you enjoyed and shared with others. There are many things that you can do in sobriety that can give you the thrill that you found in your ecstasy addiction. Regular exercise, proper nutrition and self-care are all foundations on which you can build your life in recovery. Additionally, you can rediscover old hobbies and find new ones, especially those in the arts and music which are expressive.
Most importantly, you can find happiness and have fun with the family and friends who love and support you and know the person you truly are on the inside.