What Type of Drug is Ecstasy?
The scientific name of ecstasy is MDMA (or, to be more precise, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). It is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to the stimulant amphetamine. MDMA was initially popular among young adults in the nightclub scene or at “raves” (huge, all night dance parties), but the drug now affects a broader range of users and ethnicities.
Ecstasy could contain just about anything. It is generally manufactured in clandestine labs by criminal drug dealers, not chemists. Ecstasy usually comes in tablets, which have been found to contain anywhere from 0-50% MDMA. The most common non-MDMA ingredients in “Ecstasy” are aspirin, caffeine, and other over-the-counter medications.
One of the most dangerous additives commonly found in “Ecstasy” is DXM (dextromethorphan,) a cough suppressant.
MDMA acts by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The emotional and social effects of MDMA are likely caused by the release of large amounts of serotonin, which influences mood. Serotonin also triggers the release of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, which play important roles in love, trust and sexual arousal and this may account for the feelings of emotional empathy produced by the drug. After Ecstasy leaves the body dopamine levels plummet, causing depression and irritability.
Ecstasy tablets may be any colour, and are generally embossed with a logo or design such as a butterfly, heart, lightning bolt, star, clover, or Zodiac sign. Ecstasy can be found in powder or in capsules.
Other street names are: E, XTC, Rolls, Adam, The Club Drug, Molly, Mandy, Designer Drug, The Party Drug, Hug Drug, Disco Biscuits, White Doves, New Yorkers, Love Drug, Clarity, Lover’s Speed.
Effects of Ecstasy
The short-term effects of ecstasy include mental stimulation, emotional warmth, euphoria, empathy toward others and increased physical energy. Enhanced sensory perception is also a potential effect. This means that a person taking the drug may seem to be friendly, hyperactive or full of energy, and may seem wide awake even after hours of activity.
Side effects include confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and anxiety.
Signs of abuse
Ecstasy pills are easy to spot: they are small and coloured. They might look like little sweets.
Signs of ecstasy use include irregular sleeping patterns, unusual bursts of euphoria, a lack of awareness of pain and multiple sexual partners.
Other signs of ecstasy abuse:
- Sweaty, a side effect of the high body temperature that is caused by the increased blood pressure and heart rate.
- Dizziness or feeling faint.
- Weight loss
- Sore jaws (from excessive teeth grinding)
When abuse of the ecstasy becomes chronic signs include paranoia, depression, confusion and aggression.
Symptoms of ecstasy/MDMA Overdose
- High Blood Pressure
- Panic attacks
- Loss of consciousness
- High body temperature
Users tend to think Ecstasy is harmless fun, but it does pose serious health risks.
The greatest dangers Ecstasy abusers face in the short-term are super-elevated body temperature and dehydration. These are typical side effects, which can occur with any use, and they can be fatal.
On the other hand, drinking too much water suddenly can result in swelling of the brain and, in some circumstances, this can be fatal.
Other physical damage caused by ecstasy includes:
- Muscle tension
- Involuntary jaw clenching and jaw problems
- Cracked tooth enamel, worn teeth, tooth decay
- Blurred vision
- Reduced appetite
- Chills and sweating
- Acne-like rash on the face and neck
- Loss of control over voluntary body movements
- High blood pressure
- Kidney failure
- Liver damage
- Elevated heart rate
- Heart attack
- Brain cell destruction
Psychological Damage from Ecstasy Use:
- Sleep problems
- Drug craving
- Psychological addiction
- Poor decision-making ability
- Getting into fights or accidents
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Violent, irrational behavior
- Decreased ability to process serotonin – critical to sleep and well-being
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Physical symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal include:
- Body ache (usually because of excessive dancing or other activities while high)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Disturbed sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme thirst
- Soreness of the jaw (involuntary grinding of teeth is common during the high)
Psychological symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drug craving
- Lack of motivation
- Problems with memory
- Suicidal feelings
Treating Ecstasy Addiction at Castle Craig
Castle Craig Hospital has over 30 years experience in treating drug addiction – treatment begins with with a period of detoxification. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be an effective approach for preventing relapse. CBT is focused on helping addicted individuals abstain — and remain abstinent — from ecstasy and other substances. Community-based recovery groups—such as Narcotics Anonymous—that use a 12 Step program, can be helpful to people trying to sustain abstinence and are part of our continuing care programme for each patient. Participants benefit from supportive fellowship and from sharing with those experiencing common problems and issues. Please visit our treatment section for more details about our rehabilitation programme.