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Ecstasy Abuse

Ecstasy is a designer drug, also known as a “club drug” that is manufactured in clandestine laboratories in many parts of the world. Originally, ecstasy was the chemical MDMA; however, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, ecstasy abuse often occurs while mixed with other drugs, such as methamphetamine or ketamine and even over-the-counter cough suppressants.

There is no regulation in place concerning the manufacture of ecstasy because it is a Schedule I substance. This means that there is no legitimate, medical use of the drug, and it is only manufactured for illegal, recreational purposes.

The history of MDMA spans many decades. Originally synthesized in the early part of the 1900s, it was used by a portion of the psychological community due to its ability to break down communication barriers and inhibitions during sessions. As explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when the drug became widely and legally available on the street, the Drug Enforcement Agency banned the substance for all uses. Recently, however, the FDA approved a small clinical trial to determine if there is a medicinal use for the pure form of this designer drug.

How Is Ecstasy Abused?

Known on the street by names such as “beans,” “lover’s speed” or “peace,” MDMA and the other drugs often blended with it come in a tablet form. They are available in a variety of colors with logos stamped on the tablet to identify different brands or combinations of drugs. The end user of the product, however, has no resource or recourse in determining what drugs are actually contained in the pill. Generally, drug users will ingest the tablet orally, or they may smash the tablets and inhale them through the nose.

Ecstasy is rarely injected, although it is sometimes available as a powder or liquid. There are several ways in which individuals who participate in the party culture associated with club drugs will take ecstasy. One method, known as “stacking” involves taking at least three tablets at one time. Another, known as “piggy-backing,” according to the DEA, is the taking of multiple tablets or doses with small intervals. For instance, rather than taking three pills as once, a user might space out the doses in half-hour increments.

The DEA explains that there is a rising trend to mix ecstasy with the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Mixing drugs such as ecstasy with other drugs or alcohol is potentially very dangerous. Ecstasy is a stimulant, which on the surface seems like a “safe” drug to mix with a depressant, such as alcohol. However, when an individual does so, they put themselves in a position to stay awake and alert far longer than if they were consuming alcohol alone. While this may be the point – to stay awake and be able to participate in the party subculture for longer periods of time – it also allows an individual to drink far more alcohol during a shorter period of time. Combining stimulants and alcohol can result in alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal in certain circumstances.

Mixing MDMA with alcohol can make one feel nauseous, induce vomiting and increase dehydration. Ecstasy’s ability to deregulate body temperature and alcohol’s ability to raise body temperature can lead to death due to hypertension.

Trends and Statistics

The most recent information provided by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey indicates that ecstasy abuse has been trending downward. Prior to that, however, there had been a slow but steady increase in use. The height of the abuse of ecstasy among 12th graders occurred in the year 2001 when nearly 12 percent of graduating seniors reported contact with the drug in their lifetime. A downward trend is always a good thing, of course, but does it truly matter when one of the 7.2 percent of high school seniors who reported abusing ecstasy last year is someone you love? It is also important to note that, according to the same survey, more than half of high school seniors did not see “great risk” in experimenting with ecstasy. Ecstasy abuse can affect any family, in any city or town, in any social setting. It doesn’t care how much money one earns, the color of one’s skin, or the background from which an individual comes.

What Are the Dangers of Ecstasy Abuse?

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts a study to gauge how many emergency department visits are related to drug abuse, including alcohol, and which drugs are most prevalent. Data published on their website indicates that more than 17,000 hospital visits in 2008 involved ecstasy.

While more than three-quarters of those visits involved ecstasy in combination with another drug, one-quarter were related only to ecstasy abuse. The physical effects of ecstasy abuse include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Blurry vision
  • Dehydration
  • Hypertension
  • Arrhythmia (or an irregular heartbeat)
  • Grinding of the teeth or jaw
  • Cramping

These symptoms alone are frightening when taken in perspective; however, there are other negative effects of ecstasy that affect one’s personality and quality of life, including increased anxiety and irritability, a lack of enjoyment from sex, learning disabilities, aggression, inability to sleep and depression.

Available Treatments for Ecstasy Addiction

According to the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is no single treatment that has been identified as specific to ecstasy addiction. On the other hand, there are therapies available for addiction in general, including cognitive behavioral therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a program designed to help an individual identify and correct thinking and interpretations of their environment while providing the tools necessary to modify their behaviors. The process of cognitive behavioral therapy involves a partnership between the therapist and client with homework assignments as well as regular counseling sessions. The difference between cognitive behavioral therapy and traditional talk therapy is in the length of time involved. Talk therapy, where an individual has an ongoing appointment scheduled with a therapist, is open-ended and can last for years. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to last a specific number of weeks with a beginning, middle, and end. The therapy model is very flexible and can be tailored to the needs of the individual client. In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, the experts at the NIDA recommend participation in a support group. Support groups have been shown in studies to be effective in lengthening the time between relapses and increasing the recovering addict’s likelihood to complete a treatment program.

What Is Involved in Inpatient Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction?

A residential inpatient treatment facility for drug addiction is generally located in a home-like setting where the patients live together and support each other through the recovery process. Depending on the facility, the clients will have access to a wide range of methods and practices for the treatment of addiction. Some of these methods might include:

  • Evidence-based therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Holistic and complementary methods, including spiritual counseling, music or art therapy, or therapeutic massage or acupuncture
  • Support groups both formal and informal
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Family counseling and therapy

One of the benefits of taking part in an inpatient treatment program is the privacy and dedication one can expect to the process. When participating in an outpatient setting, the recovering addict lives at home goes to work and has the ability to continue socializing with the same individuals who may or may not have contributed to their drug abuse. While the first two aspects of outpatient care may seem beneficial, it is the latter that some individuals find distracting. By choosing a residential inpatient facility for drug addiction treatment, the recovering addict immediately becomes free of those negative influences that may be detrimental to recovery.

Every person is unique. Each recovering addict who chooses treatment has their own history, influences, and issues that need to be addressed. Some individuals respond quite well to outpatient treatment while others will benefit greatly from a more structured inpatient program. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are other issues related to effective treatment that must be addressed as well. For instance, the length of time that an individual can expect to remain in treatment, as well as the specific type of treatment plan created will be determined once the individual has undergone a thorough evaluation.

An individual who suffers from ecstasy abuse and addiction can reclaim their life. All it takes is an effective treatment program and the help of professional counselors and staff who have the experience and expertise to help them find their way. If you’d like more information on treatment that can effectively address ecstasy addiction, contact us here at Futures today.

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