Ecstasy Drug Abuse
Ecstasy is a common drug that was first used by young adults in nightclubs and dance parties popularly known as “raves.” Initially, it was popular among White teenagers but now, ecstasy is already used by more ethnicities and various age groups. The active ingredient for ecstasy, which is also known as Molly, is MDMA or 3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine.
The crystalline powder form of this synthetic drug is available in capsule or tablet form and is taken by mouth. It has chemical variations of amphetamine which is a stimulant and mescaline which is a hallucinogen. It may also contain other substances like ephedrine, caffeine and ketamine that can produce psychoactive effects. For about three to six hours after intake, users of ecstasy become euphoric and energetic. They feel emotionally close towards other people and experience mental clarity as well.
Ecstasy users feel this way because MDMA works to increase neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Thus, those who take the drug become more sociable with others because MDMA directly or indirectly plays a role in the release of large amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin also sets off the release of oxytocin and vasopressin. Because these two hormones influence the feelings of love, sex and sociability, ecstasy users feel close with other people when they are under the influence of MDMA.
When the effects of Molly begin to fade, users typically take another tablet to continue getting the high given by the drug. However, the high experienced does wear off and when it does, the effects are not pretty at all. Users have trouble sleeping and are anxious, confused and depressed. They also experience a craving for the drug. The more dangerous side effects of taking MDMA are muscle tension, blurred vision, chills, involuntary teeth clenching, raised body temperature, tremors and seizures, increased blood pressure and even memory impairment. These effects can occur immediately or even weeks after using the drug and are attributed to the depletion of serotonin in the brain. Another risk taken by MDMA users is that the drug promotes unsafe sexual practices especially when used together with sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra and other trade names used for treating erectile dysfunction. Engaging in unsafe sexual behavior could lead users to contract HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. Overdosing on ecstasy can lead to death due to heart failure and excessive heat stroke.
Drug dealers often market ecstasy as a “safe” drug that does not lead to addiction. Although research on the drug has not yet concluded once and for all that it is indeed addictive, the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that some users have exhibited symptoms of dependence. These include using the drug continuously even if they know that it is harmful to them, tolerance to the drug and experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and fatigue. When users find it difficult to stop using the drug even if they know that it is harmful to them, this is clearly a sign of dependence.
Individuals who are already dependent on ecstasy should be brought to a drug rehabilitation facility right away. The earlier treatment is given the better the addict’s chances of regaining his drug-free life back.