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Ecstasy Abuse

There are various types of ecstasy abuse. Ecstasy use and abuse can be categorized into five main areas, with most ecstasy abusers falling into the experimental and recreational categories. Harms associated with ecstasy use can occur at all levels of use.

  • Experimental Ecstasy Use: when a person tries ecstasy once or twice out of curiosity. Novice users run the risk of a lack of tolerance to the drug and of not knowing how they will react. They also run the risk of various other side effects associated with the drug.
  • Recreational Ecstasy Use: where a person chooses to use ecstasy for enjoyment, particularly to enhance a mood or social occasion.
  • Situational Ecstasy Use: where ecstasy is used to cope with the demands of particular situations. For example, amphetamines have been used by long distance truck drivers to maintain alertness and by athletes to gain energy. People who experience bereavement are often prescribed benzodiazepines (minor tranquillizers) to cope with grief.
  • Intensive Ecstasy Abuse: also known as "bingeing", where a person consumes a heavy amount of ecstasy over a short period of time, or use is continuous over a number of days or weeks.
  • Dependent Ecstasy Abuse: where a person becomes dependent on ecstasy after prolonged or heavy use over time. They feel a need to take the drug consistently in order to feel normal or to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Dependence can be psychological, physical, or both. Only a relatively small number of ecstasy users become dependent drug users.

It is common for people to move between categories, and one stage does not inevitably lead to the next. Movement between categories occurs for complex reasons, as a person attempts to balance the perceived benefits from using the drug against what the person believes are the costs of using ecstasy.

One of the most difficult aspects of ecstasy abuse for parents and providers to address is that often the symptoms of ecstasy abuse are unclear. Many of the physical effects and symptoms of ecstasy abuse can be misconstrued as just feeling down or under the weather. One of the very hazardous symptoms of ecstasy abuse is promiscuity. Ecstasy users often do things they would not have done if they were sober at the time. This might include participating in risky unprotected sex or taking other unwise chances.

Users of the drug often build a tolerance to its effects and soon begin taking more than one pill just to get the same effect as before. As this behavior continues they become dependent on the drug psychologically. Ecstasy abusers commonly report a "burnout" for one-two days after using. This burnout is characterized by tiredness, soreness, and dullness of the senses or mental processes. These symptoms of ecstasy abuse are a direct result of the temporary depletion of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

The use of ecstasy has been linked with a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms of ecstasy abuse include impaired memory, chronic depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleeplessness, "de-personalization", "de-realization", reduced cognitive ability, flashbacks, hallucinations, and paranoid delusions.

Looking past the physical and psychological indicators of ecstasy abuse, one can determine if their loved one is abusing the drug by noticing the presence of paraphernalia linked with ecstasy abuse. Items that seem harmless to most but may be associated with ecstasy abuse include: pacifiers, lollipops, candy necklaces, glow sticks or glowing jewelry, mentholated rub, and surgical type masks. Pacifiers and lollipops are frequently used to prevent ecstasy users from grinding their teeth, which is caused by involuntary jaw clenching. Candy necklaces are used to hide ecstasy pills. Glow sticks, mentholated rub, and surgical mask are used to enhance the user's senses while on ecstasy.

Symptoms of ecstasy abuse include:

  • an intense focus on sights and sounds
  • blurred vision
  • chills or sweating
  • confusion
  • dehydration
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • inability to sleep
  • irritability the day after consuming ecstasy (this is due to the depletion of serotonin in the user's brain)
  • loss of inhibitions
  • muscle tension
  • panic attacks
  • rapid eye movement
  • severe anxiety and/or paranoia
  • sore jaw (involuntary jaw clenching is a side effect of ecstasy use)
  • trance-like state
  • unusual displays of affection
  • use of Tiger Balm for cramps
  • vomiting or nausea
High doses of ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.

On rare occasions MDMA abuse can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death.

Another way of taking club drugs is by liquid form, which can be easily concealed in eye drop containers, mini mouth wash bottles, and the drug mixed in with water or sports drink bottles.

A number of drugs have become known as 'date rape drugs' or 'predatory drugs' because they are used to incapacitate individuals for the purposes of committing a crime, often sexual assault.

High doses of MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature, which can be lethal.

At low doses GHB can relax the user, but as the doses increase the sedative effect will increase to a deep sleep, eventual coma or death.

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