The Ecstasy Detox Process
Known for its euphoric highs and post-use lows, ecstasy is an illegal drug that has become incredibly popular in youth culture today. As the fourth most abused drug in the world, it has become synonymous with raves, nightclubs and music festivals. However, this socially lubricating “club drug” has also become synonymous with long-lasting brain damage and mental disorders.
Ecstasy addiction, as well as any other illicit drug abuse, is accompanied by numerous side effects that can ruin lives and destroy relationships, while the symptoms of withdrawal can leave lasting marks on the addict themselves. Fear of these symptoms may keep someone from seeking treatment and going through detox, but it is far better to quit today and suffer the consequences of fighting the addiction than it is to build up a further tolerance and dependence.
The ecstasy detox process can be arduous, it can be scary, it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb, but with the right care, the necessary support and the drive to succeed it can be achieved.
Understanding Ecstasy Addiction
As addictions go, ecstasy addiction is thought to be rare or even impossible. After all, the habitual use of the drug seems unlikely given its extreme effects upon the user’s behavior and body. Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines seem like far more obvious addictive culprits.
This may be true but it does not take into account the cunning and damaging way ecstasy can worm its way out of the “once in awhile” arena and into everyday abuse. The fact of the matter is that the behavior-altering ability of the drug comes with a comedown so severe that it will often entice the abuser to re-administer the drug to avoid the forthcoming pain. This repeated dosing leads to a tolerance and dependence that can and will have the body and mind screaming for more ecstasy every day.
Ecstasy is known to the scientific world as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA for short, (street names include X, E, M, Molly, Mandy and Moon Rocks) and acts as a neurotransmitter enhancer. In essence, once ingested, it makes its way into the brain and hijacks the pituitary gland, releasing and blocking neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy and perception.
These neurotransmitters include serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for mood, sleep and hunger), dopamine (responsible for motor control, pleasure, gratification and sexual arousal) and norepinephrine (responsible for energy, focus, threat assessment and memory retrieval), serotonin representing the most affected transmitter.
A system flooded with these chemicals will experience a heightened sense of reality, a sharp uptick in overall mood, a dulling sense of benevolence and a general feeling of goodwill and sensory pleasure. Experiencing any and all of these enhanced feelings can be psychologically addictive and, in combine and excess, will become so.
However, this overwhelming release of neurotransmitters does not come without a cost, as the body’s stockpile will be depleted and production retarded. This will leave the ecstasy abuser feeling quite low after the effects of the drug wear off and can lead to a number of after-use symptoms. These ecstasy withdrawal symptoms are the first step in the body’s natural detox process and represent the biggest hurdle the addicted must get over.
Ecstasy is meant to make its users feel good. Once they no longer do, the idea of taking ecstasy again becomes more and more attractive. To cope with the “come down” the ecstasy addict will want to take more ecstasy. This represents a significant problem however, as the body will not have enough neurotransmitters left to achieve the same level of high. Consumption of more and more ecstasy ends up being the consequence, even though this may still not achieve the intended results. A tolerance will be built and soon the body will begin to rely on ecstasy to effectively transport its neurotransmitters to the synapses of the brain.
When a person suddenly stops using ecstasy after repeated abuse, their brain will not understand how, when and why to release these essential chemicals. This can lead to long-term mental disorders and a decline in productive activity. It is thus exceedingly important that should someone you know become addicted to ecstasy, treatment should be sought as soon as humanly possible.
Ecstasy Detox Day 1
The decision has been made, an ecstasy free life is on the horizon. First, however, the body must rid itself of its toxic dependence. As anyone who has taken ecstasy can tell you, the comedown from the drug is exceptionally difficult to deal with. The first day the ecstasy addict will be fatigued and their spirits low. The night’s ecstatic revelries will have come to an end to be replaced with the shocking reality of the day and a system drained of its essential neurotransmitters.
Fatigue, Dehydration and Oxidative Stress
Fatigue will be the first of many ecstasy withdrawal symptoms during the detox process, an overwhelming tiredness that will leave the addict all but useless. If you have ever experienced an alcohol hangover and all the wretchedness it entails, then you will have some small insight into the pain of an ecstasy comedown. Hydration and rest will be essential to allowing the person’s body to recover. The long bouts of dancing, the usually hot and tight-packed environments where ecstasy is most often abused, and the constant sweating that is the result of both of these factors will leave the body without sufficient electrolytes and water.
Antioxidants too will be deficient as most will have already been deployed to combat the effects of ecstasy. This can lead to a condition known as oxidative stress, which is essentially the overuse of antioxidants within the body. The best way to address all these concerns is to eat, drink and sleep. Vitamin C and foods rich in antioxidants can be helpful, as will the consumption of liquids with electrolytes.
Other symptoms of day one detox can be depression, anxiety, paranoia and insomnia, but most of these usually last longer than one day. The usual, and damaging, result of these feelings is that the addict will choose to take ecstasy again rather than suffering the symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal.
Ecstasy Detox Day 2-7
Detox from ecstasy is not necessarily just about expelling the chemical from your system. The fact of the matter is that the physical symptoms of withdrawal are usually light when compared to the psychological ones. This is due to the fact that ecstasy’s effects are primarily mental and emotive.
The sensory stimulation gained from the drug comes from the brain telling the body that it is in pleasure. The neurotransmitters imbuing the body with this idea will have been used up and be struggling to replenish themselves after the drug wears off. This can cause a significant amount of distress in an individual detoxing from ecstasy over the first week of quitting the drug.
Depression, immediate and long-lasting, is a common companion of ecstasy detox. The once freewheeling, benevolent mind will descend into a stupor, it’s serotonin mood enhancer used up during the period of drug abuse. Depression can follow and soon the sufferer will be in the depths of a consistent low mood.
What once was important will no longer seem to matter. Any sense of enjoyment or pleasure will be deadened and thus no longer sought. Fear of this depression will often result in a relapse as will the first onset of its effects. It is important at this stage to consult with a doctor as to how best to proceed as depression can lead to a number of behavioral changes that will adversely affect the person’s life. Self-harm and suicide is not uncommon in someone suffering from depression, seeking professional guidance can mitigate these issues.
Anxiety will also be present throughout the ecstasy detox process. Ecstasy acts as a self-consciousness inhibitor and, once its effects wear off, the reality of a person’s existence will reassert itself. Extreme nervousness around others will be displayed as the drug, once a social crutch, has been torn away. Sweating, worry and panic attacks are all part for the course.
Recollection of shameful past actions influenced by ecstasy abuse may seem overwhelming distressing. The addict may become increasingly obsessed with relieving this anxiety and once more turn to ecstasy as an escape. The best way to avoid this is to keep the person away from those who can provide them with ecstasy throughout the entire ecstasy detox process.
This can be achieved by a stay in a residential ecstasy addiction treatment center where high-risk individuals and fellow ecstasy users can no longer be in contact with them. The desire to soothe their own troubled mind can also lead to ecstasy addicts seeking prescription anti-anxiety medication. If obtained illegally, this can represent a real danger to themselves and their continued recovery. If these are already prescribed, it is important to have a conversation with a doctor in order to learn how ecstasy abuse can affect the medication and the body’s reaction to it.
The fact of the matter is that the most likely symptom of the ecstasy detox process will be cravings for more ecstasy. This comes down to the easily understood desire to no longer feel the effects of withdrawal as well as feeding the habitual desire for the drug. Craving ecstasy will make the person seem agitated and they may lash out.
You can expect them to attempt to bargain their way into getting the drug or having a friend or loved one procure it for them. This is a sure way to relapse and should be prepared for. It is not, at the end of the day, the person who is craving the drug, but their now dependent mind.
Understanding and sympathy may only get you so far, and it may be important to take a hard-nosed approach. Once again, surround the person going through the ecstasy detox process with professional counselors and medical staff may mean the difference between relapse and ecstasy recovery.
Since ecstasy detox is a psychological, as well as physical, process, it may take many weeks to be achieved. Most of the effects listed above will continue and may even worsen as time goes on. The body will have become used to having ecstasy as it’s main source of pushing neurotransmitters through the brain and the sudden cessation of this will leave the mind reeling.
The short-term effects of ecstasy can become long-term (the enhanced energy devolving into insomnia, the hunger reduction causing a loss of appetite and possible malnutrition). Memory loss is also a symptom of prolonged ecstasy abuse, as is the ability to retain memories. Ecstasy has also been known to trigger certain mental disorders including schizophrenia and psychosis.
These are lifelong conditions that will significantly affect quality of life well after the ecstasy detox process has reached its physical conclusion. The best way to deal with these is to consult with a physician and receive therapy.
Long-term Treatment: Detoxing the Mind
Once an ecstasy addict is free of their chemical dependence on the drug, it will still be exceedingly important that they stay away from triggers and high-risk individuals. Partying with the same crowd can lead to re-exposure to the drug and thus cause a relapse. Staying away from these people and the scenes in which the drug was formerly abused will go a long way towards recovery.
It must be said that the ecstasy detox process can be hazardous to the health of both the mind and body and should always be attempted while under the supervision of medical professionals. Once the detox process is complete, the addicted person can seek support and guidance from a number of programs. Narcotics Anonymous’ 12 Step Program can give the person a sense of belonging in a post-ecstasy world along with a benchmark system with achievable goals.
If you or a loved one are going through the ecstasy detox process, do not hesitate before seeking professional help. At Luminance Recovery, or Orange County rehab offers hands-on treatment to help guide you through this difficult time. Contact us today for a brighter future tomorrow.
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