Ecstasy Addiction and Rehabilitation

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Last Edited: March 17, 2020
Patricia Howard, LMFT, CADC
Clinically Reviewed
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Dangers of Ecstasy Abuse

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a synthetic drug similar to Amphetamines and Hallucinogens that alters mood and perception. This controversial drug is marketed to teenagers and young adults who attended music festivals, clubs, and raves. Because of Ecstasy’s mood-altering effects many abuse this drug for the excessive energy, to feel love for those around them, and the increase in sensory perception of touch.

Ecstasy causes the brain to excrete large amounts of endorphins into the bloodstream inducing waves of happiness, love, and hyper sensitivity to lights, music and tactile sensations. With the massive increase of hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine comes extreme happiness, sensitivity to music and texture, and alarming alertness.

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Many see Ecstasy as the ultimate love or party drug but the risks of manic depression, dehydration and overheating have been linked to hospitalization or death. The excessive energy and mood-altering effect it has can lead to health problems like dehydration and overheating. If the dehydration goes unnoticed it can lead to death.

Street Names for Ecstasy

Ecstasy is the most commonly used street name for the drug 3, 4-methylendioxy-methamphetamine, MDMA for short. The list of street names for this drug has evolved and changed over the decades of its popularity. Some common street names for Ecstasy are; Essence, Eve, Rave, Adam, Happy Pill, Hug Drug, Skittles.

Ecstasy Effects

Ecstasy a favorite of partiers for good reason. This drug has both the effects of a Hallucinogen and an Amphetamine. The result is a massive surge of energy, which keeps people dancing and going through day and night.  Additionally, its mood-altering effects and distortion of reality is ultimately described in pleasant terms. Its stimulation and effects cause an increase in emotional warmth, empathy and connection to others, decreased anxiety, a general sense of well-being and changes in sensory perception. People choose Ecstasy when they want a sensation of love and belonging that is dramatically increased from normal perceptions. The problem is that for a person to experience this dramatic increase, they must also, later, experience a dramatic decrease in all areas affected.

Warning Signs of Ecstasy Abuse in a Loved One

Ecstasy is commonly used in groups and during certain events like raves, concerts, clubs and for sexual purposes. It has signs of abuse that are detectable in another person.  If you are concerned about abuse of Ecstasy, regarding either yourself or a loved one, you should look for the warning signs. Repeated use of Ecstasy can be a serious problem, turning into an addiction. The strong effects of the drug can cause a person to spiral out of control.

If you encounter a person while using, it may be easy to see the symptoms of use. When people are under the influence, they will grind their teeth and smack their tongue against their teeth. Chewing gum or using a pacifier will help control this involuntary action.

Ecstasy also affects the personality, energy level and emotions of users. The person may stay up all night and sleep through most of the morning. Since the drug causes an endorphin dump, the next day the person may have extreme depression and feel groggy or fatigued.

Some warning signs include money problems, change in appearance and behavior, irritability and hostility, pulling away from friends and family members who are not fellow users, and other generally negative symptoms.

Factual Dangers: Ecstasy

Ecstasy use and abuse is potentially extremely dangerous. The mood and mind-altering effects have been known to ultimately kill people who use Ecstasy, even if it is their first time. If you suspect that a loved one is using inhalant, act now. Ecstasy use could be the sign of a serious problem, which could get dramatically worse without intervention. Addiction is a treatable disease. Your loved one needs your help and support to overcome this difficult time.

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True Stories of Addiction:

Justin’s life took a turn for the worst when he tried Ecstasy. Listen to his story to figure out how he recovered. – View all episodes now

Ecstasy Rehab Treatment

Using Ecstasy alone can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can create devastating interactions and side effects. On today’s drug market, Ecstasy is no longer purely MDMA but is often cut or mixed with other compounds that are extreme addictive or dangerous like Cocaine, Heroin, or LSD. This drug is also commonly combined with Alcohol or other narcotics because of the social setting the drug is taken in.

Ecstasy remains incredibly addictive and habit forming both psychologically and emotionally. The brain becomes trained to associate Ecstasy use with positive rewards which leads to a virtual rewiring of neuropathways in the brain as addiction develops. For those who have repeated used Ecstasy, rehab is the best option. Addiction is a complex disease of the mind and body that always gets worse unless a person receives effective treatment. Rehab works by providing a safe environment and the support and information the individual needs to get better. Professional therapists and staff help guide the person to a new, better and healthier way of living.

If you or someone you know who is addicted to Ecstasy, consider traveling for treatment. When people travel to another city or state for treatment, they remove themselves from the toxic environments and stresses that may have contributed to the abuse of mood and mind-altering substances.

Ecstasy Detox Treatment

Ecstasy releases a large amount of serotonin giving the feeling of happy thoughts. After a while the brain will stop making its own serotonin. During withdrawals, as the brain runs low on what it now considers its normal quantity of serotonin, most Ecstasy users fall into a deep depression. This phase will pass with time as the brain regains its natural serotonin levels.

Many people start the detox process alone at home but quickly relapse before the detox process is complete. This is because the symptoms of withdrawal can be exceedingly unpleasant. People often reach a breaking point and reach for relief in a drug, which starts the whole process over again.

The medical detox centers provide the support and care necessary to successfully complete the detox process. In a medically monitored detox facility, doctors can prescribe meds for severe withdrawal symptoms. Other healing techniques are also utilized, such as IV therapy, massage, acupuncture, Vitamin therapy, among others. With around the clock supervision and support, you can rest comfortably knowing that you are in good hands and that you are on the path to a better future.

Additionally, the addiction medical experts may assess your situation for other addictions and health issues. This results in a customized, comprehensive treatment plan can be created for your needs and preferences.

Addicted to Ecstasy

Research studies of Ecstasy have yet to determine how addictive the drug is, physically. Regardless of its physical properties, Ecstasy is a powerful drug that can be emotionally and mentally addictive. People who become addicted to Ecstasy in effect will crave the drug, especially if in a setting where the drug is commonly associated. If a person takes the drug and attends a rave, then attends another concert or rave, he or she is likely to desire the effects of the drug.

This is more than just a physical addiction – it’s a mental and emotional one. The person may not know how to act or navigate the event without the drug’s effects. This can be especially damaging if the person uses Ecstasy to increase pleasure during sex. The drug can cause the person to feel that the act of having sex, or enjoy him or herself at a concert, without the drug is meaningless. This can be problematic as the person may either go without and become depressed. He or she may feel that some area of his or her life is gone, or take Ecstasy every time.

Taking Ecstasy repeatedly will likely cause brain damage and other disastrous long-term effects. Additionally, the brain is not wired to produce the kind of neurological event that Ecstasy causes. The high felt the first time the drug is used will not be felt the second as the brain will literally not have the neurochemicals necessary to create that high.

Ecstasy Dependency

When taking a drug, the mind produces an abnormal amount of neurochemicals. In the case of Ecstasy, the huge influx of endorphins such as Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin is followed by a lack of these chemicals. Once the drug wears off, the brain starts trying to readjust its chemistry. It can take over a week to recover from a single dose of this drug.

Together, these three neurochemicals affect just about every system in the body. Norepinephrine affects heart rate and blood pressure, Dopamine affects energy and pleasure, and Serotonin affects mood, appetite, sleep, and a host of other functions. During Ecstasy withdrawal, a person may feel exceptionally depressed. This may be one of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms as the level of depressed mood can be extreme. People in this state have been known to suddenly commit suicide, hurt themselves or others.

Other withdrawal symptoms include extreme fatigue, irritability, aggression, anxiety, mood fluctuations, impulsiveness, thirst, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, lack of pleasure from normal things, and a significant decrease in mental acuity. These withdrawal symptoms will subside in a matter of weeks. However, the extreme nature of some of these symptoms are cause for concern. If you are going through Ecstasy withdrawal, seek medical advice immediately or enter a detox center.

Intervention for Ecstasy Abuse

People who use Ecstasy are at risk for developing an addiction and suffering devastating health consequences because of drug use. Those who are willing to use Ecstasy are also likely to use other drugs, such as Alcohol, Marijuana, prescription pills and more. Often, Ecstasy is combined with Alcohol at raves, clubs and concerts, compounding the danger of both drugs. Ecstasy use can quickly turn into a tragic situation. Many young adults have died while under the influence. If you suspect that a loved one is using Ecstasy, consider staging an intervention as soon as possible. Reaching out to the person may be the difference between life and death.

When a person is in active addiction, communication can be difficult. He or she is likely in denial that the drug use is problematic and creating relationship issues. Staging an intervention is often the best way to communicate the concerns of friends and family members in a productive way. Interventions are simply a conversation where the person is confronted about his or her drug use. They may include only two or many people. The intervention can be done spontaneously or after much rehearsal. There are many different types and ways to intervene someone’s drug use. To ensure a successful outcome, reach out to an intervention specialist.

An intervention specialist will help you determine the method, time and location of the intervention. Additionally, this professional can help determine how many and who should attend the event. We can help you find an experienced interventionist. – Learn More

Recovery from Ecstasy Abuse

While actively using, people often feel as though living without drugs like Ecstasy is pointless and impossible. People typically use drugs to feel better and overcome problems that seem insurmountable alone. Anxiety, social anxiety and acceptance, and more are all problems that you can learn to overcome without the use of drugs or Alcohol.

Recovery from Ecstasy abuse, as well as all other mind-altering substances, is possible. With treatment, many people have gone on to live happy, healthy and productive lives free from mood and mind-altering substances. Many treatment centers are 12-step based, because the 12-step program of recovery works. These programs have helped millions of people worldwide get and stay sober for many years. Regular meeting attendance is crucial to maintaining a connection to a sober community. You can find a 12-step program in your area that will help you overcome your addiction to Ecstasy.

Those looking to recover work the 12-steps, which are a series of suggestions that help empower people over addictive substances. They also provide people with a system of accountability, integrity and helps them make amends for harms caused. Everyone is encouraged to get a sponsor to work these 12-steps. A sponsor is a sober member of the group who has worked the 12-steps or who is ahead of you in the program. This person will act as a mentor and confidant, helping you to discover a better way of living. Your sponsor and fellow group members will help encourage, support and empower you even through your darkest days.

Dangers of Ecstasy Overdose

Ecstasy is created in amateur laboratories and every dose is different, each with the potential to be fatal. Most Ecstasy tablets are not pure, but are mixed with other drugs and substances, often unbeknownst to the person who buys and consumes the drug on the black market. Overdose is possible with Ecstasy and it is more common when mixed with other drugs or Alcohol. It’s not possible to tell what is in any given Ecstasy tablet, or know if it’s safe to take. For those who decide to take the drug anyway, there are some symptoms of overdose to keep an eye out for.

Symptoms of overdose that should spark immediate medical attention include high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, loss of consciousness, and seizures. If you or someone you know has taken Ecstasy and is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911. Other concerning symptoms of Ecstasy use include chills, nausea, dehydration, sweating, high body temperature, heart failure, kidney failure, arrhythmia, muscle cramping, blurred vision and involuntary teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

People have been known to die of too much water consumption while under the influence of Ecstasy. Excessive thirst has led people to drink enormous amounts of water, causing an electrolyte imbalance, confusion, disorientation, nausea, seizures, coma and death.  Tragically, many people have taken a risk with Ecstasy and paid the ultimate price. If you or a loved one has taken Ecstasy, contact emergency medical services immediately. – Learn More

Ecstasy Use, Abuse and Dependency

Ecstasy has been around since 1910s, but was not used recreationally until the 1960s. For over half a century, this drug has been making an appearance at raves, concerts, clubs and just about anywhere people gather. This so-called love drug is an extremely dangerous compound that has spelled disaster for many people.

Addiction treatment centers and experts are more than a little familiar with Ecstasy. People who choose Ecstasy are, by definition, willing to take a significant personal risk in the pursuit of a high. Often, the person will also drink, smoke and possibly have already started other drugs which are known to destroy users.

If you’re concerned about the cost of treatment and how to pay for it, don’t lose hope. The medical community accepts addiction as a chronic disease, and it is treated like many other chronic diseases, and as such, most health insurance companies offer coverage for drug and alcohol treatment. Check with your insurance company and see what they offer. Some may only offer 30 days of coverage, and some may offer more, or less.

Also, talk to your treatment facility about possible grants, financial aid or the ability to pay in installments. Some treatment centers can offer scholarships to those who qualify. Make sure to contact the treatment center to see if this is an option.

If you still can’t afford treatment, consider state resources. Many states have programs for drug and alcohol treatment for those who can’t afford it. Resources are abundant, you must find one that works for you.

When you go into treatment you want to make sure that you are giving yourself the best opportunity for long-lasting recovery. In most cases traveling for treatment is the best way of doing that. When you travel for treatment you are removing yourself from negative influences, which will make it easier to focus on your treatment.

Traveling for treatment also gives you a better chance of completing the rehab program. Unfortunately, many people start rehab but are drawn away from recovery by old using friends, enablers or dealers. By finding a treatment center located away from familiar people and places, you give yourself and your recovery a better chance at success.

The professionals in the treatment center you choose will help you identify the underlying reasons for your drug use. Through individual and group therapy, you will discover a new and better way of handling stress, communicating with others and living in general.

Ecstasy use can have an impact of your family and relationships. The disease of addiction rewires the brain to make continued abuse of substances a top priority, even over eating, sleeping and responsibilities with work or the family. If addiction has had an adverse effect on your family relationships, then family therapy in rehab may be for you.

Family therapy strengthens relationships in your family. Depending on the treatment facility, your family members may be invited to counseling sessions, talks and other activities with you. Many families don’t understand the disease of addiction, or the impact that Ecstasy may be having on you.

In family therapy, family members and the patient are educated on how drugs and alcohol affect the patient, and how they impact the behavior of the patient, which then adversely affects the family. Family therapy also teaches communication skills and coping mechanisms so people can deal with the stresses in their life without using drugs and in a peaceful way.

Once you successfully complete the program at your rehab facility, next comes maintenance of your sobriety. Most rehab programs are 12-step based. When you get out of that program you can join a local chapter of the 12-step program of your choice. Ecstasy use is social in nature, so you will benefit from weekly group meetings when you finish your treatment.

One of the benefits in weekly meetings is that you can develop a support system among peers just like you, who are struggling with addiction to similar substances. This support system can help you when times get tough, and be there for you to help you avoid relapse. The people you meet in meetings provide each other with support and comradery rarely experienced elsewhere. In group meetings, you will have the opportunity to share your struggles and experiences, which can lead to more accountability, healing and growth.

You can also find sponsors at weekly group meetings who help you on a personal level to achieve your recovery goals. Everyone in recovery is encouraged to get a sponsor and to work the 12-steps. A sponsor is a sober member of the group who has worked the steps him or herself. This person will act as a mentor and confidant, helping you find your footing and path to a better life.

Check out our Find a Meeting app, and you can find group meetings in your area. Type in your city, state or zip code and various meetings will appear with their location and the time and date of the meetings. Give us a call for help finding a treatment center.

Short-term Effects

The emotional and pro-social effects of Ecstasy are caused by the release of large amounts of serotonin. Once serotonin is released into the body, it also triggers other hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin. Those two hormones are associated with feelings like love, trust, and sexual arousal. While under the influence the body is overstimulated mentally, filled with excessive energy, strong feelings of love and affection for everyone. A person taking Ecstasy may seem to be very friendly and easily aroused as this drug does enhance sexual feelings.

The surge of serotonin caused by taking Ecstasy depletes the brain of this important chemical causing negative after effects such as confusion, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, manic depression, and suicidal tendencies. With the intense spike in positive feelings comes an equally dramatic spike downwards. The level of despair and depression has caused people to commit suicide, destroy relationships and generally create significant amounts of wreckage.

In addition to what Ecstasy itself does, other additives will have their own adverse reactions. Ecstasy can be cut with Meth, Heroin, Cocaine and household chemicals like drain cleaner. When using drugs bought illegally or made by clandestine labs, you never really know what you are actually taking. Ecstasy is known to create an intense, short-lived high, followed by a week or longer of significant lows. Some people try to combat this by taking more, however repeated use of this drug can cause irreversible long-term damage.

Long-term Effects

Regular Ecstasy abuse can cause abnormal brain function and hormone regulation. Brain damage caused by MDMA abuse may be irreversible. Feelings of depression and memory loss may last long after use of the drug has stopped. Ecstasy affects chemicals in the brain, and long-term use can damage the brain’s ability to regulate and produce these chemicals that affect mood.

Repeated use of Ecstasy can also lead to severe mental problems. Brain damage can occur anytime Ecstasy is used, but taking it regularly or more than once dramatically increases the chances of developing permanent brain damage. Ecstasy can also affect other major organ systems. It can cause kidney failure, which translates to a painful death. Heart damage is another possibility, which could mean an early death by sudden heart attack. Quality of life is also damaged as heart damage can cause difficulty exercising, exerting energy, shortness of breath and weight gain.

Behaviors associated with Ecstasy use also often create health problems that life-long. Ecstasy causes people to be more trusting and promotes sexual experiences. Deciding to have sex with someone while on Ecstasy has caused more than a few people to trust the wrong person. HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are often communicated between people whose judgement has been altered by this drug. If you know someone who is abusing Ecstasy, consider organizing an intervention as the long-term ramifications for this drug abuse are permanent effects to the brain.

True Stories of Addiction: Overcome Drug Addiction

Your loved one feels isolated and alone in their fight against their addiction. Give them the backup that they need. Holding an intervention for a loved one not only brings their problem to the surface, but shows them that people still care about them. They might be in denial with other people, but most people who have a substance abuse problem are not in denial with themselves. Deep down inside, they know they need help. If you show them that they have support if they decide to get that help, they will be more willing to go to rehab. Let them know that you are not giving up on them.

Inpatient Ecstasy Rehab

Inpatient facilities are the most proven form of substance abuse treatment. They are live-in facilities where patients stay at the center for a specific period, typically for 30, 60 or 90 days. The residential nature of these facilities provides an elevated level of care and accountability. For anyone who has not been to rehab before, inpatient rehab is certainly the best bet. Depending on the treatment center, you will have access to a range of therapies, including individual, group, family, cognitive behavioral and alternative therapies. Different centers offer different types of treatments so it is important to try to research your favored rehab center first.

The best treatment centers will offer individual, group, family and alternative therapeutic treatments to each client. Individual therapy usually means Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a gold standard in addiction treatment. The therapists will help individual identify and correct negative and self-defeating thought processes. Group therapy helps each member learn and grow from the experiences of the group. Strong bonds are formed and often translate into life-long friendships.

Family therapy is essential to helping the entire family unit heal from troubling past experiences. All family members learn about the disease of addiction and learn how to cope with stress in a healthier way. Communication skills are honed and sharpened, helping to prevent future turmoil amongst the family group. By treating the underlying cause of a person’s addiction, he or she can leave inpatient rehab with a new lease on life. – Learn More

Outpatient Ecstasy Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs are like inpatient, however are much less intensive. An outpatient program is where individuals travel to a clinic or facility several times a week to take part in counseling sessions and then leave, rather than living at the facility. This allows the people to work, attend school and continue to fulfill responsibilities that cannot be left for weeks or months.

Treatment centers that offer a tailor treatment program are preferred. This means that they recognize that no two people are alike and that a one size fits all treatment approach is flawed. The problem with outpatient treatment programs is that the person often remains in the environment that led him or her to use. Having the majority of his or her time free to access the drug of choice, the person attending outpatient treatment may ultimately continue to use without detection.

The upside to outpatient rehab is that it is generally much less expensive than inpatient rehab. People who have chosen rehab for themselves have the opportunity to overcome their addiction at a fraction of the cost.  Outpatient programs also often offer many of the same therapeutic methods as inpatient treatment. Individual and group therapy form the backbone of treatment, while some may also provide family sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, helps individuals replace old, negative thought processes with healthy, productive ones. Group therapy forms strong bonds bet ween members and each person benefits from the experiences and feedback of the group. – Learn More

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