Searidge Drug Rehab

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MDMA (ESCTASY) ADDICTION

Searidge Foundation ranks as one of the best drug addiction treatment facilities in Canada. Located in idyllic Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, we provide individuals struggling with substance use disorders a variety of evidence-based addiction services and addiction treatment options. At Searidge Foundation, individuals living with ecstasy addiction have access to individualized ecstasy recovery programs with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. It is our goal to provide our patients with individualized evidence-based addiction treatments to move towards living an ecstasy-free life. Patients at Searidge Foundation can look forward to the following:

  • Ecstasy detox
  • Residential treatment for ecstasy
  • Ecstasy intervention
  • Ecstasy rehabilitation
  • SMART Recovery Meetings

ECSTASY – WHAT IS IT?

Commonly referred to as “Molly” or “E” on the streets, ecstasy is typically comprised of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and is known as the first party drug. Historically, it gained popularity among recreational drug users as being a clean drug with social properties. In fact, this drug quickly became the most sought-after substance in rave culture during the late 80s because of its altruistic and euphoric effects on users. However, despite its reputation, it is illegally-made in laboratories and is often mixed with various other chemicals. This poses a risk to users as they may be consuming other active non-MDMA ingredients, such as synthetic cathinones (i.e. bath salts), caffeine, procaine, and methamphetamine. Today, it is almost impossible to know the true composition of pills sold as ecstasy without drug-testing kits, however, the pills are easily identifiable as being coloured and stamped with a logo.

A collection of colorful Ecstasy, or Molly, pills, with a variety of different stamps

ECSTASY ADDICTION – HOW DOES IT LOOK?

In 2008, self-reported data indicated that the presence of ecstasy use in Canada in adults over 25 was 0.5%. Usage among youth (ages 15-24) was 6.5% and ecstasy ranked as number 4 in the top five substances used in the past year by Canadians. Whether this drug is addictive is still contested among professionals. However, it is likely not physiologically addictive.

Ecstasy is classified as a hallucinogen in the DSM-5 which excludes withdrawal in its criteria. According to the American Psychiatric Association, hallucinogen withdrawal has not been repeatedly demonstrated in humans. Despite that, ecstasy indeed also exhibits stimulant-like properties and stimulant dependence accompanied by withdrawal symptoms is well-documented (e.g. depression, irritability, anxiety, etc). This may be a motivating factor in continued use.

Ecstasy, a common club-drug, also called Molly or MDMA, being passed between two people.

In addition, users can develop a craving for the euphoric feelings associated with the drug which can then lead to continued drug use. According to the World Health Organization, this can be better defined as a dependence. The initial rush of euphoria after administration leads to a psychological craving for repeated use. This, in conjunction with its short duration of action, increases the likelihood of individuals developing a low dependence.

Finally, other pre-existing psychological conditions may contribute to increased use of the drug. For example, individuals with anxiety disorders have reported subjective withdrawal-like symptoms when coming down from use. This may lead to the individual seeking out continued use. In most instances, ecstasy is one of several drugs consumed in individuals with polydrug addictions.

SHORT-TERM EFFECTS AND RISKS

Users generally notice the effects of ecstasy within 20 minutes of taking it and they can last up to six hours. Oftentimes, users report brief bouts of anxiety followed by a rush of euphoria. This is usually accompanied by enhanced feelings of ease of oneself and an appreciation of sensory stimuli (e.g. lights, music). Individuals have also reported an increase in energy, racing heartbeats, a loss of appetite, persistent jaw clenching, and an increase in body temperature accompanied by excessive sweating. There are dangers associated with short-term MDMA use. Individuals are at risk for heatstroke and dehydration if the drug is taken during energetic activity. In response, some individuals may try to alleviate these symptoms by drinking excess amounts of water which can lead to swelling of the brain.

CONSEQUENCES OF ECSTASY USE

Ecstasy use can lead to acute physical and psychiatric problems. Some users have reported psychosis, anxiety/panic spells, and depressive moods days after coming down from the drug. In users with pre-existing psychotic illnesses, consumption may provoke psychotic and manic episodes.

Although rare, clinical toxicity can occur, especially in polydrug users. Ecstasy is often taken with other club drugs (e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, etc.) and this can pose major risks for cardiovascular failure. The combination overheating, dehydration, and prolonged physical activity (i.e. dancing at clubs) following ingestion can lead to fatal rhabdomyolysis. This is accompanied by subsequent failure of multiple organs (e.g. kidneys).

As previously mentioned, users may experience a disruption in sodium and water balance due to excess water consumption. This can lead to acute water intoxication and swelling of the brain with symptoms of confused states, impaired consciousness, and seizures. In fact, this is the leading cause of ecstasy-related death.

PHARMACOLOGY

The active ingredient of ecstasy is MDMA. It is a mild stimulant that provokes the release of serotonin (5-HT) in the brain and prevents its subsequent reuptake. It does not directly interact with 5-HT receptors. Instead, it interferes with the actions of transporters in the brain and redirects 5-HT that is stored to the synapse. This creates a “flooding” of 5-HT into the synapse where it can produce its effects on the brain (e.g. euphoria). One dose of MDMA can lead to the release of 80% of available 5-HT thereby increasing serotonergic activity. In addition, it inhibits enzymes that limit the amount of 5-HT synthesized in the brain, consequently leading to more readily available 5-HT overall. Finally, it increases dopamine and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) levels in the brain, as well as leads to increased release of acetylcholine in the prefrontal and dorsal hippocampus.