Ecstasy addiction

Ecstasy, a drug known for its euphoric effects, has long been associated with rave culture and transcendent experiences. Many users praise its ability to create feelings of closeness, empathy and emotional bonding.

However, behind the seemingly innocent facade of the “love drug,” lies the dark reality of ecstasy addiction. As the drug takes hold of its users, it can completely devastate lives, ripping apart families and causing irreversible health issues.

Ecstasy addiction - MDMA tablet

What is ecstasy?

Ecstasy, scientifically known as 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), is a synthetic psychoactive drug that produces feelings of euphoria, emotional warmth and heightened sensory perceptions. It was first synthesised in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck, but its psychoactive effects weren’t discovered until the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, ecstasy gained popularity as a party drug, becoming synonymous with rave culture.

Ecstasy is typically ingested in pill or capsule form but it can also be snorted (either by crushing up pills or snorting the pure MDMA powder form) or smoked. In the United Kingdom, ecstasy is classified as a Class A drug, making it illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture. Other common street names for ecstasy include Molly, Mandy, E, X, Happy Pills and Disco Biscuits.

Ecstasy 101: Did you know…?

  • Although MDMA is known for its association with rave culture, it was initially investigated as a potential therapeutic tool for psychotherapy in the 1970s.
  • In the UK, there were 67 ecstasy-related deaths recorded in 2021, down from 92 in 2018 (the highest number since records began in 1993.)
  • Ecstasy is sometimes called the “love drug” due to its ability to induce feelings of emotional closeness and empathy.
  • In England and Wales in 2022, approximately 0.7% of those between 16 and 59 and 1.1% of adults aged 16 to 24 years had reported taking ecstasy the previous year.
  • Ecstasy use has been associated with a phenomenon called “Tuesday blues” or “suicide Tuesday,” where users may experience severe depression a few days after taking the drug.

What is ecstasy addiction?

Ecstasy addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterised by compulsive drug-seeking behaviour and continued use despite negative consequences. While ecstasy is not as physically addictive as some other substances, it can still lead to psychological dependence and addiction.

As users take the drug more frequently, they begin to develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses of ecstasy to achieve the same effects. This can lead to dependence, where the brain and body become reliant on ecstasy to function normally. Finally, addiction sets in when the individual is unable to stop using ecstasy despite the negative consequences it causes in their life.

Ecstasy addiction - MDMA tablets

Am I addicted to ecstasy?

Recognising the signs of ecstasy addiction is crucial in seeking the help needed to overcome it. However, the deceptive nature of ecstasy addiction can make it difficult to acknowledge or identify these ecstasy addiction signs.

To determine if you or a loved one is suffering from ecstasy addiction, consider the following questions:

  • Do you find yourself using ecstasy more frequently or in higher doses than you intended?
  • Have you tried and failed to reduce or stop your ecstasy use?
  • Do you spend a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of ecstasy?
  • Have you experienced negative consequences in your relationships, work, or personal life due to your ecstasy use?
  • Do you continue to use ecstasy despite knowing the risks and potential harm it may cause?
  • Have you developed a tolerance to ecstasy, requiring more of the drug to achieve the desired effects?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or fatigue, when you attempt to stop using ecstasy?
  • Have you given up or reduced participation in activities that were once important to you in favour of using ecstasy?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions may indicate MDMA addiction symptoms so it is essential to seek professional help.

Who is most at risk of ecstasy addiction?

While anyone can develop an addiction to ecstasy, certain risk factors may increase an individual’s susceptibility. These include:

  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of addiction can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to ecstasy or other substances.
  • Age of first use: Individuals who begin using ecstasy at a younger age are more likely to develop addiction problems later in life.
  • Frequency of use: Using ecstasy frequently or in high doses increases the risk of developing tolerance, dependence and addiction.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders: Individuals with mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, may be more likely to use ecstasy as a form of self-medication, increasing the risk of addiction.
  • Social environment: Being surrounded by peers who use ecstasy or engage in other substance abuse can normalise and encourage drug use, increasing the likelihood of addiction.
  • History of trauma: Individuals who have experienced trauma may be more vulnerable to using ecstasy as a means of coping, making them more susceptible to addiction.

What are the effects of ecstasy abuse and addiction?

The effects of ecstasy abuse and addiction can be far-reaching and devastating, impacting multiple aspects of an individual’s life. Some potential consequences include:

Physical health issues…

Prolonged ecstasy abuse can lead to a range of health problems. Organ damage, particularly to the liver and kidneys, can occur due to the drug’s toxic effects and the body’s inability to properly metabolise it. Dehydration is a common side effect, as ecstasy can suppress the body’s natural thirst mechanism and lead to excessive sweating.

Mental health problems…

Chronic ecstasy use can cause long-lasting mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. The drug’s effects on serotonin levels in the brain can lead to mood disturbances and impair cognitive function. Memory impairment and difficulty concentrating are also common consequences of long-term ecstasy use.

Strained relationships…

Ecstasy addiction can place a significant strain on relationships with friends and family members. As the addiction progresses, you may become more focused on obtaining and using the drug, leading to increased isolation, mood swings and neglect of personal responsibilities.

Financial difficulties…

The cost of maintaining an ecstasy habit can lead to financial strain and even bankruptcy. People struggling with ecstasy addiction may prioritise spending money on drugs over other essential expenses, such as housing, food and healthcare.

Legal consequences…

Possessing, distributing or manufacturing ecstasy is illegal in many countries, including the UK. People caught with the drug may face arrest, imprisonment and a criminal record, which can have long-term implications.

Reduced work or school performance…

The physical and mental effects of ecstasy addiction can significantly impact your ability to perform well at work or school. Cognitive impairments, memory issues and difficulty concentrating can lead to decreased productivity and poor academic performance. The time and energy spent on obtaining and using ecstasy can result in frequent absences and a lack of motivation.

Increased risk of overdose…

An ecstasy overdose can result in a range of severe symptoms, including:

  • High blood pressure: Overdosing on ecstasy can cause a rapid and dangerous increase in blood pressure, which can strain the heart and blood vessels, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Seizures: An ecstasy overdose can also cause seizures, which can be a sign of significant neurological damage or disturbance.
  • Loss of consciousness: Overdosing on ecstasy may cause a person to lose consciousness, increasing the risk of injury from falling or choking on vomit.
  • Organ failure: The excessive amount of ecstasy can overwhelm the body’s ability to process and eliminate toxins, leading to damage and failure of vital organs such as the liver and kidneys. This can be life-threatening and may require emergency medical intervention.
  • Hyperthermia: An ecstasy overdose can cause a dangerous increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can damage organs, muscles and even lead to death if not treated promptly.

In some cases, an ecstasy overdose can be fatal so if you suspect that someone is experiencing an ecstasy overdose, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Ecstasy addiction - thermometer almost at hyperthermia level

What does professional help for ecstasy addiction involve?

Professional help for ecstasy addiction typically involves a multi-stage treatment programme to address each facet of the condition systematically. This includes:

  • Ecstasy detox: This is the process of eliminating ecstasy from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms. In the case of ecstasy addiction, this will primarily address psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and depression as ecstasy does not tend to cause physical withdrawal.
  • Ecstasy rehab: This focuses on the underlying causes that contributed to ecstasy abuse in the first place to give you the skills and support needed to maintain long-term sobriety.

How to get help for ecstasy addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with ecstasy addiction, seeking professional help is the first step toward recovery. With a dedicated team of experts, Oasis Runcorn can help you overcome the challenges of ecstasy addiction and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Don’t let ecstasy addiction dictate your future – reach out to Oasis Runcorn today and take the first step on your journey to recovery.

Frequently asked questions

Are MDMA and ecstasy the same?
MDMA is an abbreviation of the chemical name for ecstasy. The term “ecstasy” is often used interchangeably with “MDMA” but MDMA usually refers to the pure powder form of the drug and ecstasy to the pills, which may also contain other substances such as amphetamines, caffeine or even dangerous chemicals. Both the powder form and the pill form have the same potential for abuse and addiction.
What are the signs of ecstasy abuse to look for in a loved one?
Common signs of ecstasy abuse to look out for include behavioural changes, heightened sociability and a desire for emotional closeness, mood swings during comedowns, dilated pupils, teeth grinding or jaw clenching, excessive sweating, sleep disturbances, weight loss or decreased appetite, unexplained financial difficulties and drug paraphernalia. If you suspect that a loved one is abusing ecstasy, encourage open communication, express your concerns, and offer support in seeking professional help.