Ecstasy is a synthetic stimulant that creates feelings of increased energy and euphoria. It is remarkable for also creating a feeling of simulated warmth and affection and so it’s popular in nightclubs, raves and music festivals.
The user also experiences changes in perception of light and time, and an altered sense of touch and sensuality easily leads into sexual stimulation. Party venues provide stimuli that play on the changes made by Ecstasy, for example, elaborate light shows, clouds of smoke, fireworks, lightsticks provided to patrons and scantily dressed dancers going through erotic moves.
Videos of the dance club Water-Gate in Berlin, for example, reveal that the club’s ceiling is entirely made of LED lights that flash in time with the music. Some clubs have walls covered in materials that appeal to the senses, such as satin or suede as in the Haze Nightclub in Las Vegas.
But Ecstasy is physically damaging and addictive. It can lead to indiscriminate and unprotected sex, which can result in pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. At these venues, a woman may meet a man who will give her Ecstasy, have sex with her and never be seen again. Unfortunately, because of the addictive nature of the drug, she may go through this process again and again even though she doesn’t want to.
Not surprisingly, MDMA is sometimes associated with prostitution. In Boston in 2011, several people were indicted for running a criminal enterprise that provided both prostitutes and Ecstasy. And in Jamaica, sex workers often turned to Ecstasy to cope with the pressures and pain of their profession. Use of Ecstasy is increasing among young people in the US but reducing among some populations in Australia.
What is Ecstasy?
The technical name of Ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, shortened down to MDMA. Chemically, it is similar to methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. But this is when MDMA is pure, which it often is not. In Canada in 2012, drugs purported to be Ecstasy, in fact, contained some paramethoxymethamphetamine or PMMA, which caused five deaths in Calgary and Vancouver. Other pills supposedly containing Ecstasy actually contained amphetamine, ephedrine, caffeine, cocaine, dextromethorphan or ketamine, the veterinary anesthetic.
Ecstasy is only one of several drugs that tend to be used in a party or club atmosphere, along with ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, BZP, and Mephedrone. New formulas are always being developed, just changing an existing formula very slightly, as drug dealers try to stay a few steps ahead of the law. A modified formula may circumvent the letter of existing laws and be legal to distribute, at least for a while.
Problems Caused by Ecstasy
Because it is similar to methamphetamine, Ecstasy causes the heart to beat faster, the vascular system to constrict and overheating to occur. If the body temperature goes high enough, a person’s organs (particularly liver, kidney and cardiovascular system) can fail, resulting in death. Between 2004 and 2008, emergency room visits due to problems with Ecstasy increased 75 percent, to more than 17,000. It’s not unusual for one or a few deaths to occur following a major music festival.
In addition to other changes, the Ecstasy user usually suffers from muscular tension, teeth clenching, nausea, faintness, sweating and/or chills. Some people use baby pacifiers to keep from damaging their teeth or jaws from the constant clenching of teeth.
The Ecstasy user often starts by using the drug on rare occasions, but then as addiction sets in, is driven to use it again and again. One US survey showed that 43 percent of young people who reported Ecstasy use also met the criteria for dependence on the drug.
Between uses, the addicted person is likely to suffer from severe depression, confusion, sleep problems and cravings for the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heavy Ecstasy use causes memory problems that persist for at least two weeks after the drug is no longer used.
The person who tries to withdraw from Ecstasy is likely to suffer fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble focusing, and depression. Many people who abuse Ecstasy also use other drugs at the same time, such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, increasing the dangers of physical damage.
Getting Clean After Ecstasy Addiction
There are no substitute medications that can be used for the Ecstasy addict who wishes to find recovery like there are for opiate addicts. But when substitute medications are used, all the addicted person finds is further reliance on yet another addictive drug. It is better to find an addiction recovery program that leads a person to full sobriety, such as the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
In some forty locations around the world, those who are addicted to opiates, alcohol, stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine or Ecstasy or other drugs can find lasting recovery. Instead of substitute drugs, nutritional supplements, one-on-one care, and life skills training are used to support recovery. A sauna-based detoxification program helps flush out drug residues, contributing to clearer thought and a more stable recovery.