Ecstasy Drug Addiction Treatment Centers
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is colloquially known as Ecstasy or Molly. This club drug is one of the most commonly abused designer drugs by many of today’s teenagers and young adults because of a wrong perception that the drug is generally safe. It has both psychedelic and euphoric effects that makes it ideal for partygoers who simply would like to have the “time of their lives.” Unfortunately, many of these individuals simply do not understand that it is these hallucinogenic and stimulant effects of MDMA or Ecstasy that are actually increasing their risk of developing addictions.
In the United States, NIDA reported in 2004 that there were more than 11 million individuals at least 12 years of age who have ever used ecstasy in their lifetime. In the second and third quarters of that same year, there were more than 2,200 emergency room visits because of ecstasy, with a great majority of those individuals belonging to the 18-20 age group.
Taken orally, the hallucinogenic and stimulant effects of MDMA can last anywhere between 3 to 6 hours, often depending on a variety of factors. It is therefore not uncommon to see individuals taking one to three tablets of MDMA or Molly over the course of one party, in order to achieve a sustained euphoric and psychedelic effect. Ecstasy, unfortunately, does not only contain MDMA. Studies now show that ecstasy also contains methamphetamines, dextromethorphan, ephedrine, cocaine, and even caffeine. These adulterants have their own respective psychoactive effects leading to a more dangerous ecstasy tablet. Sadly, despite these contaminants or additions to MDMA, ecstasy is often consumed together with marijuana and alcohol. It is therefore not surprising to see multiple drug results in toxicology reports among individuals who have consumed ecstasy.
The implications of this are enormous. Given that ephedrine, cocaine, caffeine, and methamphetamines are largely considered as stimulants, they potentiate the stimulant activity of ecstasy. Dextromethorphan, marijuana, and alcohol may have CNS depressant effects leading to a multitude of problems.
Taken alone, ecstasy has been shown to produce irreversible damage to serotonin-sensitive nerve cells. As serotonin is one of those transmitters important for the regulation of mood, the destruction or damage to the major nerve structures that support serotonin action can greatly impair these areas. Perhaps, the most often overlooked danger in ecstasy addiction is its ability to elevate the body temperature to levels that can severely compromise vital physiologic processes. Increased body temperature often leads to metabolic processes that can ultimately lead to death.
Additionally, MDMA has been shown to stimulate the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is also involved in the regulation of the stress response. This leads to massive vasoconstriction, increased blood pressure, and very rapid heartbeat. The resulting increase in peripheral vascular resistance significantly undermines the delivery of oxygen to the tissues, as well as the removal of carbon dioxide from the cells of the body. This leads to hypoxic conditions as well as hypercarbia. Excessive carbon dioxide in the blood can lead to respiratory acidosis, leading to problems in the acid-base balance of the body. This greatly aggravates the already elevated body temperature, hastening death in the process.
Typically, an individual who has grown addicted to ecstasy can present with restlessness, irritability, aggression, impulsiveness, and sleep disturbances. Additionally, there is lack of appetite and an overall reduction in interest and pleasure including that derived from sex. The individual can also experience excessive thirst because of the hemodynamic problems as well as problems in cognition, brought about by reduced oxygenation to the brain. Potentially life-threatening effects include dehydration, hyperthermia, arrhythmias, hypertension, kidney failure, seizures, and heart failure.
Treating ecstasy addiction involves cognitive behavioral interventions. It is necessary to help the individual change or modify their way of thinking, as well as their behaviors. Gradual removal of MDMA is important in order to prevent the abrupt development of withdrawal symptoms. A comprehensive toxicology evaluation is needed in order to determine the other potential drugs that may exist together with MDMA. These individual drugs may also have to be managed accordingly. For example, heroin can be managed with buprenorphine while alcohol can be managed with naltrexone. Unfortunately for MDMA dependence, there are currently no medication protocols that can be administered to help counter its effects.