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We have noticed an increase in the number of clients checking in to our residential ecstasy rehab programme recently. Ecstasy is the well known street name for MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. This synthetic, psychoactive drug has become synonymous with the rave, night club and party scenes in both America and the UK. It can be consumed in pill or powder form, and goes by a number of street names, including: XTC, E, White Doves, Disco Biscuits and Love Drug. Users report intense feelings of euphoria, connection with others and increased social confidence while high on the drug.

How Does Ecstasy Work?

The pleasant effects reported by users of the drug can be traced to the fact that MDMA encourages the brain to produce more of three of its’ own neurotransmitters: Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

The intense emotional and social stimulation effects are most likely caused by elevated levels of the natural “upper” serotonin in the body. Negative mood swings, depression or irritability immediately following use have been attributed to crashing dopamine levels in the brain. Some clients in our ecstasy rehab programme describe a “law of diminishing returns” with ecstasy. It quickly starts taking a lot back physically and psychologically.

Many users describe intense rushes of energy and are able to “rave” the night away without sleep. Others are able to consume larger quantities of alcohol while under the influence of ecstasy and MDMA. Both of these strategies are risky and dangerous and have been known to cause death.

Symptoms of Ecstasy Dependency and Abuse

Once ecstasy use has reached a level of psychological or physical dependency, users can expect to experience negative drawbacks. Interference with normal sleeping patterns, panic attacks, radical mood swings with extreme highs and lows, weight loss, high blood pressure and increased body temperature resulting in unusual sweating. Another sign to look out for is unusual teeth and jaw clenching resulting in sore jaws and worn teeth.

Health Risks of Ecstasy Dependency

Not long ago, research done at Harvard University relating to ecstasy health risks was published in the Guardian Newspaper. Comparing club-going users vs club-going non-users, the study results found that Ecstasy users and non-users performed equally well in cognitive tests. The study implies that “brain damage” is not one of the risks of taking ecstasy. It should be noted however, that the sample group was quite small. Additionally, the study did not track subjects over time.

The study also failed to address the affects of Serotonin depletion on mood and psychological well-being. Serotonin depletion may be at the root of many of the reported withdrawal symptoms discussed below.

To ignore the rave and club culture risks of dehydration, over-hydration and chemical cocktail overdosing would be naive. The Harvard study may demonstrate that ecstasy does not affect your IQ, but there are most certainly risks associated with taking the drug.

Why Does Media Feature Stories of Ecstasy Related Deaths?

The Harvard study mentioned above was led by Professor John Halpern. He drew some important conclusions regarding former safety studies and his own research. The Harvard study excluded users or non-users who used any other drugs or alcohol at all. Previous studies did not exclude other drug use and so highlighted problems triggered by other factors, such as use of other drugs or drink, dehydration, overhydration or sleep deprivation.

It should be stressed that it was difficult for the Harvard study to even find a test or control group that fitted their strict criteria. Most club goers combine their drink and drugs, overlook dehydration risks and ignore the body’s cries for sleep. Dehydration and sleep deprivation have both been linked to health problems on their own. Combined with drug cocktails, some individuals’ bodies simply pack in and shut down permanently.

Ecstasy & MDMA Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms

Ecstasy and MDMA withdrawal symptoms have not been extensively documented. The three main factors to consider are: frequency of use, duration of use, and ecstasy dosage levels. These three factors will have a very real affect on a user’s withdrawal symptoms and severity. Everyday or frequent users will have a worse time than recreational users.

Typical long-term ecstasy use withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • cravings
  • depression
  • appetite loss
  • depersonalization
  • memory loss
  • paranoia
  • loss of concentration and focus
  • potential psychosis

Clients who attend Galdstones ecstasy rehab programme begin with a medically  supervised residential drug detox in our clinic.

How Long do Ecstasy Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The length and duration of the ecstasy withdrawal phase is dependent on individual circumstances. Dosage, frequency and duration combined with personal factors all play a part. Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms will recede at different rates. Expect an average timeline of approximately 90 days for full detox and recovery. Physical addiction will have long gone by then, but users need to allow time for the brain’s Serotonin producing chemistry to reboot without MDMA. Psychologically, users will have to learn to adapt to social interactions without the ecstasy crutch smoothing their passage.

The Primary Treatment phase of our ecstasy rehab programme teaches the client how to move forward after detox. For this to take place, the client must be fully detoxed and remain clean for the duration of the programme.

Talk to an Expert About Ecstasy Rehab

If you would like to talk to an expert about ecstasy rehab feel free to call us confidentially. You may have questions about how much is too much and wonder how bad your problem is. You may be interested in helping yourself, or a friend or relative and it does not matter which one. Just pick up the phone and begin the dialogue.

Private, residential treatment for Ecstasy & MDMA Addiction call Gladstones on 0800 774 7024. 

References:

Ecstasy Dangers Unclear, NHS

Ecstasy does not wreck the mind, study claims – The Guardian

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