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MDMA, also referred to as Ecstasy or Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that produces a feeling of increased energy, euphoria, empathy and sensory distortions when taken. It is considered a party drug, because it is commonly used by young adults in the nightclub scene, especially at raves. Initially, ecstasy was popular among young white adults, but it is becoming increasingly popular with a wide range of ethnicities.
Ecstasy is mostly taken orally in a tablet or capsule, and the effects usually last about 3-6 hours, but users increasingly take another dose of it when the effects of the first dose are starting to wear off. It is also common for users to take it with a combination of other drugs, like cocaine and marijuana.
Ecstasy affects the brain by increasing the activity of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which are three neurotransmitters in the brain. It is widely believed that the emotional and social effects of ecstasy are caused by the release of serotonin, which influences a person's mood, and other functions such as sleep and appetite. The serotonin also triggers the release of hormones that play an important role in sexual arousal, trust and some other social experiences, which accounts for the feeling of emotional closeness that users experience.
The increase in the serotonin levels caused by the use of ecstasy depletes the brain of the chemical, which very important, and causes negative effects after use, like depression, confusion, sleeping disorder, anxiety, and more cravings for the drug. These effects may occur soon after the drug is taken, and can last for days or weeks after use.
Ecstasy has also been known to produce brain lesions in the serotonergic neural pathways. Some long term users tend to experience long lasting depression, confusion, as well as problems with their memory and attention.
In addition to the cognitive effects of ecstasy, there are also some physical effects. Users tend to have increased heart rates, and high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of heart diseases. They also experience symptoms such as involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, chills, faintness, and muscle tension. When it is taken in high doses, it is likely to interfere with the body's ability to regulate its own temperature, and in some cases, it can lead to hypothermia, which can lead to kidney, liver or cardiovascular failure, which can ultimately lead to death.
Another effect that the use of ecstasy can have on a person is that it can interfere with its own metabolism. This can cause a harmful buildup of ecstasy in the body, especially if it is being used repeatedly in a short period of time. A major problem that ecstasy users face is the fact that even the ecstasy pills that are supposedly pure have other drugs in them, which can be even more harmful to them.
Some drugs that are often added to ecstasy include ketamine, caffeine, methamphetamine, cocaine, ephedrine, and even synthetic cathinones, which is the psychoactive ingredients found in bath salts. These drugs are harmful enough on their own, but in addition to ecstasy, they are very dangerous. Especially if a person decides to use another drug while taking ecstasy, that can have an adverse reaction to one of the drugs the pill has been mixed with.
Like most drugs, there have been a lot of ecstasy users that have overdosed after taking the drug. The most common physical symptoms of overdose are convulsions, sharp rise in body temperature, muscle rigidity, vomiting, loss of consciousness, dizziness, heart palpitations and cramps. People who have certain health problems like heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes, kidney disease, and psychiatric disorders, are at a greater risk of getting harmed by using the drug, than others.
The withdrawal symptoms that ecstasy users get generally vary on a few things, the amount that they use, the length of their use, and their frequency of use. Someone who uses the drug frequently will suffer more symptoms, than someone who doesn't, because it will take their brain some time to adjust without it. The same goes for people who have used during a longer span, than someone who hasn't, and the higher the dosage they take, the worse their withdrawal symptoms will be, compared to someone who takes smaller doses.
The most common withdrawal symptoms are:
The research on the addictive effects of ecstasy have shown varying results, but a lot of users have reported symptoms of dependence on the drug, which include the continued use of it, despite the knowledge of psychological or physical harm.
There are plenty of recovery options for people that are struggling with an addiction to ecstasy. There are hospital based programs where the person can check themselves into a hospital and seek treatment for the problem. At the hospital, they will be helped to detox from the effects of ecstasy, and may be given some medication if they are in a lot of pain. After the detox, they will receive counseling from the hospital's psychiatric staff, who will teach them how to cope with the addiction.
Another method of recovery for people that don't want to check themselves into a hospital, is to go to a recovery center. Some people prefer this method, because the centers are dedicated to treating substance abuse specifically, which provides them with more confidence that they can overcome their addiction.