Learn about how ecstasy alters mood, and how its impacts on serotonin can cause lasting damage to the brain.
The Basics of Ecstasy
Ecstasy is an illegal psychoactive drug that has both stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. It is made in laboratories from synthetic compounds.
The drug is commonly taken as a colorful pill but can also be found in powder, tablet, or capsule form. The effects take about 30-45 minutes to kick in and last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.
Its scientific name is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), but on the street, it goes by many names:
- Hug drug
- Love drug
- Lover’s speed
Beware of the Danger of Hidden Compounds
Ecstasy is produced in clandestine labs in Canada and the Netherlands and then smuggled into the United States. Some labs have also been found in the U.S. Because it is made illegally, the buyer cannot confirm the drug’s ingredients.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), drugs like MDA and PMA are sometimes sold as ecstasy without the buyer’s knowledge. Ecstasy tablets have also been found to contain other drugs such as:
- bath salts
Using ecstasy can put a person at risk of overdose or death. They may take additional doses expecting to achieve an ecstasy high, but instead, get intoxicated by another unknown compound.
Why Do People Use Ecstasy?
People take ecstasy because of the way it makes them feel. Ecstasy induces an energizing high similar to amphetamines and psychedelic effects that are close to that of mescaline and LSD. Individuals report feeling:
- Increased energy
- Loving, touchy, sexual
- Time and perception distortions
- Altered and heightened sensations
- Increased enjoyment of tactile experiences
This drug is frequently taken at raves, parties, and nightclubs to enhance the experience.
Ecstasy Affects Brain Activity & Mood
Ecstasy is not all fun and games. This drug has a number of serious short and long-term impacts on the brain. In order to understand those impacts, it is important to first understand what ecstasy does to chemicals in the brain that transmit biological signals. These chemicals are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Increased Activity of Serotonin, Dopamine, & Norepinephrine
Serotonin controls mood, aggression, sleep, and feelings of pain. Serotonin also triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, enhancing sexual desire and closeness.
Dopamine is central to motivation and feelings of pleasure. It is a key chemical involved in the reward center of the brain, which is linked to drug cravings. This neurotransmitter also helps control movement and emotions.
Norepinephrine triggers an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
Although ecstasy affects the same neurotransmitters as other drugs do, its effects on serotonin are what make heavy ecstasy use particularly harmful to cognitive and emotional health.
Health Impacts from Use
Short-Term Effects on the Body
While on ecstasy, a person can experience adverse side effects such as nausea and sweating. They may also have tremors and feel faint. Because ecstasy can interfere with temperature regulation, there is the chance that a person who takes high doses of the drug can go into hyperthermia, a life-threatening condition where high body temperatures can lead to organ failure and death.
Even if all goes well that night, the following days can be a horrible experience. It is not unlikely that an individual will experience a severely depressed mood, lethargy, and emotional exhaustion. Due to so much serotonin being released the night before, one’s brain is depleted the next day. If a person already struggles with a mental health condition, this can be a dangerous situation; the low can be so intolerable that suicidal ideations may manifest themselves.
Cognitive Deficiencies & Emotional Problems
Chronic use of this party drug can damage one’s ability to derive pleasure from things that normally bring enjoyment. It also comes with the risk of long-term or permanent damage to one’s cognitive and emotional health through its impacts on serotonin.
Some complications include:
- sleep problems
- long-lasting confusion
- deficiencies in memory
- difficulty learning and paying attention
Seeking Out Help for Ecstasy Abuse
To some people, seeking out help for an ecstasy problem might seem like a joke. They might downplay the severity of the problem and claim that they reserve the drug “just for parties.” Like all other drugs, recreational use can quickly escalate to a substance use disorder and, in the worst-case scenario, addiction.
Some individuals report withdrawal symptoms such as losing appetite, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Getting help for ecstasy abuse is vital to avoid additional risks to one’s health.
Ecstasy is a common drug in the party scene. Despite its popularity, there are severe risks like brain damage and substance use disorder. Avalon Malibu is a fully licensed treatment facility for adults who struggle with mental health and addiction. We understand how difficult it can be to find pleasure in sober activities once you’ve started using drugs like this, but we can help. We have years of experience in helping our clients walk the road of recovery. Our clients have access to an experienced and educated team of professionals and high-quality services and therapies. Our Ecstasy Treatment Program is designed with the short and long-term effects in mind, and aims to help clients recover with minimal withdrawal symptoms. Clients can enroll in our state-certified partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient treatment program. Call us today at (844) 857-5992 if you or your loved one is struggling with addiction to ecstasy.