Have you realised that your use of ecstasy or related ‘party drugs’ has become out of control? Have your family and friends started complaining about the way you are acting or has your work begun to notice you are not showing up on a Monday morning? If so, find out more about why Ecstasy addiction is actually a recognised problem and what you can do to help yourself.
Hallucinogen use disorder and Ecstasy addiction
The assumption that the use of MDMA or Ecstasy is harmless or somehow a lesser intoxicant is incorrect, there are many ways that this drug, as with any mind or mood altering substance, can adversely affect a person’s wellbeing.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DMZ-5 is used by clinicians and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric illnesses including addiction and substance misuse. This book is published by the American Psychiatric Association and focuses mostly on describing symptoms as well as statistics and common treatment approaches.
In the manual there is a distinction made between different categories of drugs as follows:
- Cannabis (marijuana)
- Opioids (heroin)
- Sedatives, Hypnotics, or Anxiolytics (Valium)
- Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine)
How is Ecstasy addictive?
This manual is the gold standard for diagnosing and treating substance misuse problems and is relevant because Ecstasy fits into ‘Hallucinogens’ category of substances and then subsequently into the subcategory of ‘Hallucinogen Use Disorder’. Moreover, irrespective of the substance the diagnosis of abuse or addiction depends on a pathological set of behaviours which relate to the use of that substance. These affect the following areas (regardless of the substance):
- Impaired control
- Social impairment
- Risky use
In other words, people who are addicted to Ecstasy display behaviours which can be recognised and identified by clinicians (and often by themselves and members of their family too). The reason why Ecstasy is addictive is because its use changes the way the person using it feels, thinks and behaves.
What is Ecstasy/MDMA?
Ecstasy or MDMA is a synthetic man-made drug and tablets sold as Ecstasy are as likely to contain amphetamine combined with a synthetic hallucinogen, as they are to contain pure MDMA. Ecstasy comes in pills, capsules or as powder and can have hallucinatory and amphetamine-like effects.
Using MDMA/Ecstasy increases the activity of at least three neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are naturally occurring chemicals but after being overstimulated by the use of MDMA, a period of depletion follows where the user feels depressed and lethargic.
Why we qualify Ecstasy as addictive
One of the main indicators that a drug is addictive is revealed when the user has to take more of it to have the desired effect. This is called the phenomenon of tolerance and a side effect of this occurs when people start to mix in other drugs in an effort to resurrect the high they desire. Likewise, it is common for people to use other substances such as alcohol, to medicate the withdrawal or ‘come down’.
What are the effects of Ecstasy addiction?
Ecstasy has effects similar to hallucinogens and stimulants and it can have assorted harmful side effects which occur differently in individuals. Those affected by addiction to this drug tend to be binge users but that does not mean the consequences are any less painful or dangerous than the use of other so-called ‘harder’ substances. Those who use in an addictive pattern often concurrently use other drugs and engage in high-risk behaviours.
Physical consequences of Ecstasy addiction
- Decreased memory and cognitive function
- Changes in the brain chemistry – short term
- Changes in the structure and function of the brain – long-term
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Disturbed sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits
Psychological consequences of Ecstasy addiction
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Lying to yourself/denial
- Apathy /Exhaustion
- Memory loss
- Mood Swings
Social consequences of Ecstasy addiction
- Potential increase in risky behaviour
- Financial problems
- Sexual problems
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Lack of interest in work/school
- Lack of interest and ability in maintain relationships/friendships
- Damaged relationships with family members
- Lying to others
- Spiritual consequences of Ecstasy addiction
- Damaged self-esteem and self-worth
- Damaged relationship with self
- Lack of interest in life
- Inability to function without the drug
- Continued use despite negative consequences
The signs and symptoms of Ecstasy abuse get progressively worse over time and there will be no resolution until effective addiction treatment and aftercare are sought. One of the main things that shows Ecstasy as an addictive substance is the way that people continue to use it despite these negative consequences.
Stimulant psychosis can be a part of the withdrawal from Ecstasy
There are many reasons why someone might have a psychotic episode including that he or she are suffering from a mental health condition. Nonetheless, alcohol and drugs can also trigger this disorder as well as psychotic symptoms potentially appearing as part of the withdrawal process.
Stimulant and psychoactive drugs are notorious for causing psychosis and researchers think this is because of the way these substances disrupt the brain’s chemistry, particularly the way they disturb the production of dopamine. Moreover, someone suffering from stimulant-induced psychosis requires special help and guidance from clinicians trained in dual diagnosis treatment.
Psychosis resulting from Ecstasy is not in itself distinct from other forms of stimulant psychosis or even other forms of psychosis. The person may have unpleasant, frightening, violent, agitated, or vengeful hallucinations and paranoid fixations.
Stimulant psychosis can be treated in a number of different ways by using antipsychotic drugs and therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms List
Withdrawal symptoms will vary in length and intensity depending on how long the individual has been using and their general physical and mental condition. It must also be remembered that Ecstasy is regularly cut with amphetamines and other types of hallucinogens and that this will affect the types of symptoms the individual may experience.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems
- Changes in self-perception
Ecstasy withdrawal at the Hader Clinic in Melbourne
Accurate assessment by our capable medical team determines if our clients require a medicated period of detoxification. This will depend on the individual’s circumstances and symptoms are always closely monitored by our skilled clinical and medical staff and treated accordingly. Our team are highly experienced in providing safe and effective ecstasy withdrawal programs and aim to keep clients as comfortable as possible as well as being able to treat psychosis.
Treatment for hallucinogen use disorder and ecstasy addiction at The Hader Clinic
Treating addiction to hallucinogens is about addressing the wellness of the whole individual and the myriad of different ways the substance has affected their lives. The holistic addiction treatment model employed by The Hader Clinic is the perfect solution.
We believe a length of time spent in a quality environment with supportive staff in the early days, weeks and months of recovery are crucial. We have a 28 day, fully immersive and medically supervised Primary Program that can be followed by another 60 days in a homely secondary rehab followed by tertiary care if necessary. All our locations are comfortable and are designed to creating an environment that is fully conducive to recovery.