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Ecstasy

What is ecstasy? 
Ecstasy is a man-made drug. It has both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities. Users of the drug say that it makes them feel very calm, relaxed, and self-confident while it increases energy. Other names for ecstasy include MDMA, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug.

Ecstasy is usually taken in tablet form. A powder form of it may be snorted or smoked. It is not usually injected. The effects start about 20 minutes after you use it and can last for 4 to 6 hours.

What is ecstasy abuse? 
When you first start using the drug, you do it to feel good. If you keep using the drug even when it causes problems at school, work, or in relationships, it is abuse. Abuse is different from dependence. Abuse does not include strong cravings for the drug, loss of control, or the need for increasing amounts of the drug to get high. If you cannot feel good without using drugs, you are dependent on the drugs.

Ecstasy can be abused, and it may also cause psychological dependence.

What are the symptoms? 
Using ecstasy causes effects similar to using amphetamines and cocaine. These effects include:

  • increased heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure
  • chills and sweating
  • tremors
  • teeth clenching that you can't control
  • muscle cramping
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • faintness
  • confusion
  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • hallucinations
  • cravings
  • severe anxiety
  • paranoia


How is it diagnosed? 
Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and drug use and examine you. A sample of your urine may be tested for drug use.

How is it treated? 
Withdrawal from ecstasy is not life threatening and does not cause physically painful symptoms. However, for treatment to be successful, you must want to give up drugs. The most important parts of treatment are for you to admit that you have a problem and to be in a drug-free environment. You can join a self-help group or a therapy group, or be part of a supervised clinic program. You may need to be hospitalized for substance abuse treatment.

How long do the effects last? 
Ecstasy is not physically addictive. However, it does affect the body's ability to regulate itself. Users may party constantly for days without eating, drinking, or sleeping. This can cause severe dehydration and exhaustion.

Repeated use of ecstasy can cause depression, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, trouble sleeping, memory loss, and attention problems. Memory loss may be permanent with repeated or long-term use of ecstasy.

In high doses, ecstasy can cause panic attacks, loss of consciousness, seizures, heart failure, and extreme heatstroke.

If you develop a rash that looks like acne after using ecstasy, you are at greater risk for severe side effects such as liver damage if you continue to use the drug.

How can I help myself? 
The best way to help yourself is to stop taking ecstasy.

Changing your lifestyle can help you have more energy, less anxiety, and more self-confidence. Try making the following a regular part of your life:

  • Hang out with friends who don't abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Think of good things about your life often.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises during times of high stress.
  • Talk with friends and develop other support systems.
  • Get help at home and at work when the load is too great to handle.
  • Seek help from your health care provider or a mental health professional to deal with anxiety-producing life events.
  • Exercise 30 minutes 3 times a week.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Follow the treatment plan your health care provider prescribes.
  • Stop taking this drug and ALL other drugs unless they are prescribed by your health care provider.