Treating Women Who Abuse Ecstasy

Ecstacy Treatment Program for Women at Balboa Horizons

Ecstasy is the common street name for a synthetic, psychoactive drug called MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). MDMA has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects and produces feelings of euphoria, increased energy and altered reality. Ecstasy is one of many dangerous and habit-forming substances known as “club drugs.” It has long been associated with the nightclub and rave scenes and users claim to enjoy the drug for its ability to diminish social anxiety and create a sense of belonging. They experience emotional warmth and increased empathy with others and these emotional and social qualities make ecstasy extremely attractive to female users.
Although ecstasy use has diminished since its peak in 2000, the drug is still a widespread problem and studies show that it remains highly popular. Perhaps one of the most dangerous misconceptions concerning ecstasy is the belief that it is a harmless party drug with little potential for abuse or addiction. Nothing could be further from the truth. The consequences experienced as a result of ecstasy abuse are severe and treatment is highly recommended. At Balboa Horizons, we have treated many women addicted to ecstasy and other “club drugs,” with whom ecstasy was their primary drug of choice. We understand the multitude of reasons why women are attracted to this class of drug and have experience in successfully dealing with the aftermath of an ecstasy addiction.
Ecstasy is most commonly ingested in tablet or capsule form. Although all ecstasy is known to contain MDMA, street ecstasy is typically a cocktail of drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, ephedrine or any number of toxic substances. These are dangerous recipes and users rarely know what combination of drugs they are actually ingesting. Furthermore, many ecstasy users commonly take ecstasy along with alcohol or marijuana, greatly compounding the risk of adverse health effects and neurotoxicity. One-time use can cause severe dehydration, hypothermia, liver, kidney or cardiovascular system failure and death.

Ecstasy is known to produce confusion, depression, insomnia, severe anxiety and drug dependency. A survey of young adult ecstasy users found that 43% of those who reported ecstasy use met the diagnostic criteria for dependence. Those addicted to ecstasy will experience increased tolerance along with the presence of serious withdrawal symptoms should they discontinue their use, making ecstasy a highly dangerous and addictive drug. Aside from these physical implications, perhaps the most severe risks are due to the distorted reality created by ecstasy. Users experience seriously impaired judgment, heightened levels of trust or bouts of extreme paranoia, which can lead to a multitude of traumatic events including rape, injury, car accidents, assault and criminal charges.

Ecstasy has the ability to dramatically alter brain chemistry. MDMA works on the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and pain. It binds to the serotonin transmitter, increasing and prolonging the serotonin signal to the brain. It also causes an excessive release of serotonin from the neurons, increasing feelings of euphoria. After any period of use, ecstasy can permanently damage serotonin nerve terminals. Due to these serotonin deficiencies, many women recovering from ecstasy addiction will struggle with depression. Our clinical staff is highly trained to treat depression associated with addiction and we employ a variety of treatment modalities that have been proven effective. In addition, there are a multitude of psychiatric medications known as SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, that may be helpful if necessary.

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