First marketed as an appetite suppressant in the 1960s, ecstasy has come a long way in terms of offering any redeeming medicinal value or merit. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, belongs to the Schedule I class of controlled substances, all of which carry a high potential for abuse and addiction.
According to Northern Arizona University, ecstasy acts as both a stimulant and hallucinogen, exerting powerful effects on the brain and body. As a stimulant and hallucinogen, ecstasy interacts with several chemical systems throughout the brain and central nervous system.
While this drug does carry a low potential for physical dependence, it nonetheless can produce symptoms of psychological dependence, which is where addiction takes root. With regular, ongoing use, signs of addiction start to take over a person’s life.
Ecstasy’s chemical makeup includes amphetamine, which produces stimulant effects, and mescaline, ecstasy’s hallucinogenic agent. This combination acts as a mood elevator with “high” effects lasting anywhere from four to six hours.
While ecstasy from days gone by stayed true to this mix of components, today’s version of the drug may contain any number of other drug types, which tend to intensify its abuse potential. According to Brown University, substances commonly mixed in with ecstasy batches include:
When using ecstasy on a regular basis, these combinations place a person at considerable risk of having adverse reactions, overdosing and even death. In effect, users play a game of Russian roulette with each dose of the drug.
Ecstasy’s Effects in the Brain
Ecstasy’s effects target the brain’s serotonin system, which regulates a person’s mood state, sleep cycles and heart rate among other vital functions. When ingested, ecstasy forces serotonin-producing cells to release massive amounts of the chemical. Shortly thereafter, users experience feelings of euphoria and a heightened sensitivity or empathy for others.
According to the University of Maryland, ecstasy all but depletes the brain’s serotonin supplies and leaves users in a severely depressed state once its effects wear off. With regular use, these interactions can cause permanent damage to serotonin-producing cells.
Ultimately, these effects contribute to the drug’s addictive potential. In cases of chronic ecstasy abuse, ecstasy addiction treatment becomes all the more necessary as the brain reaches a point where it can’t function without the drug’s effects.
Physical vs. Psychological Addictive Potential
Rather than craving the actual physical effects of the drug, ecstasy users tend to chase after the emotional “rush” the drug produces. Over time, this emotional draw works to feed the psychological dependency that develops with continued drug use.
The potential for psychological dependency increases more so for people prone to depression and/or anxiety symptoms, according to Dartmouth College. The ongoing use of the drug in spite of its adverse physical and psychological effects is another clear-cut sign of psychological dependence and a growing ecstasy addiction.
When to Seek Ecstasy Addiction Treatment
Ecstasy’s effects on serotonin-producing brain cells weaken cell structures to the point where it takes increasingly larger drug doses to produce the desired “high” effects. The brain will continue to demand larger doses of the drug for as long as a person keeps using, which only works to further damage brain cell structures. These effects become the driving force behind compulsive drug use.
Someone in need of ecstasy addiction treatment will see a marked decline in his or her quality of life in the following areas:
- Physical health
- Personal hygiene and appearance
- Psychological health
If at all possible, it’s best to get needed ecstasy addiction treatment before a person’s life starts to spin out of control.
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