Ecstasy abuse: signs and symptoms
An illegal drug with no approved medical usage, the typical manufacturing of ecstasy happens in laboratories overseas after which people sell it as colorful pills that look like candies. The ability of the drug to heighten the feelings of love and empathy in its users makes it addictive in nature. As MDMA causes the brain to produce an overload of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, it often creates the feeling of happiness and pleasure and reduces anxiety and depression among its users.
Often abused to diminish inhibitions, increase alertness, enhance energy, improve mood and increase pleasure from physical touch, ecstasy abuse causes its user to experience negative consequences, including muscle tension, higher heart rate, and increased blood pressure, among others.
Though not all people who take the drug become addicted to it, it has a high potential for physical and psychological addiction. Following are some of the signs and symptoms of ecstasy addiction:
- Drug dependence
- Secretive behavior
- Teeth clenching
- Impulsive behavior
- Increased thirst
Ecstasy abuse: health consequences
Young people use ecstasy because of its ability to produce a strong sense of euphoria, reduce social anxiety, stress or fear; and enhance tactile sensations, introspection and empathy. As the effects of the drug do not last for long, its users often take additional doses when they feel the effects start to wear off. Unlike its primary effects, which last for up to a few hours, the secondary effects of MDMA (especially depression) can last for as long as a week after the last use.
The real danger of ecstasy lies in its effect on the regulation of body temperature. The ability to increase the release of three major neurotransmitters as well as stimulate the nervous systems is why ecstasy can prevent the body from feeling the sensation of overheating, allowing the user to get dangerously hot without realizing it.
The threat of hyperthermia can even lead to death. As ecstasy overdose increases the risk of overheating, many people, especially inexperienced users, overhydrate that can lead to hyponatremia or water poisoning. When the body takes in too much water, its sodium levels become unbalanced, causing the organs to swell. And if the brain expands too much, it risks crushing the brain stem that can further lead to coma or death.
Ecstasy is most dangerous when combined with alcohol. Its effect can be opposite to that usually created by stimulants. Those with existing issues related to heart, blood pressure and breathing are also at a higher risk of heart attack or suffocation – the latter due to MDMA’s tendency to cause sleep apnea. Kidney and liver failure as well as bleeding in the lungs, though rare, can also occur due to overdose. Ecstasy use can even lead to heat stroke, water intoxication and suffocation, though its death toll is relatively low.