Ecstasy withdrawal occurs when someone has used the drug ecstasy for an extended period of time and suddenly stops using it. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a psychoactive drug that can have stimulant and hallucinogenic effects on the user and is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. An estimated 1.1 million Americans used ecstasy for the first time in 2009, an increase from the 894,000 statistic reported in 2008.
Ecstasy was originally used as an appetite suppressant, but was never widely used for this purpose due to its hallucinogenic effects. The drug was used medically in the 1960s to treat some types of mental illness, but it was determined that using ecstasy for this purpose only made the patients worse. The recreational use of ecstasy first became popular at weekend-long dance parties known as "raves". Today, ecstasy use is prevalent in a broader range of venues, age groups and ethnic and social backgrounds.
When someone uses ecstasy, they experience feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and distortions in time, perception and tactile experiences. Ecstasy withdrawal occurs because of the way that the drug affects the parts of the brain that regulate mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivity to pain. Use of ecstasy increases chemicals and reactions to those chemicals in the brain which causes the user to feel all of the aforementioned "positive" feelings that users intended to experience in the first place. Unfortunately, this is why ecstasy can become addictive and users may feel the need to use more and more ecstasy more often in order to experience these pleasurable sensations and emotions.
Ecstasy is not necessarily physically addictive like other drugs such as an opiate narcotic. Many ecstasy users become addicted to the emotional state they achieve by using the drug. Ecstasy use also decreases appetite and the need for sleep, making it a drug of choice for young college students. Long-term chronic users often feel they cannot live without the drug and it is easy to fall into the trap of addiction to the drug. When the individual stops using ecstasy, the artificially induced "happiness" that the drug creates dissipates and the user can feel depressed and experience more negative consequences as the chemicals in the brain return to normal levels. The most common ecstasy withdrawal symptom is depression. Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms can also include fatigue, loss of appetite, feelings of depression and trouble concentrating.
Chronic ecstasy use causes ecstasy withdrawal symptoms to become so severe that the user reaches a crisis point. Someone going through this may turn to other substances like alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics, or anti-anxiety medications to treat their symptoms. However, use of these drugs is not recommended because the individual can then be at risk of becoming addicted to these substances.
Besides the dangers of ecstasy withdrawal, ecstasy use can also be dangerous to overall health and on rare occasions deadly. This is because ecstasy has similar effects on the body as other stimulants such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness and chills or sweating. In high does, ecstasy also interferes with the body's ability to regulate temperature which may result in hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can have devastating consequences including liver, kidney or cardiovascular system failure or even death.
Chronic users of ecstasy have increased rates of depression and anxiety, and studies show significant short and long-term memory impairment among those who consistently use the drug. Ecstasy users are also at risk of taking something they think is ecstasy but is really a mixture of other stimulants and drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, ephedrine or caffeine. In some instances, ecstasy tablets may contain a drug known as PMA which quickly elevates body temperature and heart rate even at low doses. Therefore, someone who takes a normal amount of ecstasy may actually be taking a dose of PMA that could be potentially lethal. There are also serious drug interactions that are often not considered when taking ecstasy that could be life-threatening, including taking the drug with alcohol.
Taking everything into consideration, from questionable drug purity to becoming memory impaired, ecstasy use is not worth the risks. The depression that many ecstasy users suffer as part of regular ecstasy use and ecstasy withdrawal are an indication that aggressive professional intervention is necessary to help individuals who are experiencing ecstasy withdrawal and addiction.
Individuals experiencing ecstasy addiction and ecstasy withdrawal can find help at inpatient drug rehab with drug detoxification today.