Ecstasy, a composite of stimulant and hallucinogenic substances, produces powerful effects that carry a high potential for addiction. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, an ecstasy “high” can last for eight hours or more. As ecstasy works by stimulating neurotransmitter activity in the brain, these effects place a considerable strain on the brain and body.
With frequent use, ecstasy’s effects start to compromise a person’s health and overall functional capacity. Once ecstasy addiction takes root, users have lost the ability to stop using or limit their intake. Warning signs of ecstasy addiction are fairly easy to spot considering how this drug all but hijacks brain and body functions.
Ecstasy addiction takes root within a person’s thinking, emotions and behavior. With each dose, ecstasy triggers the release of unusually high levels of neurotransmitter chemicals throughout the brain and central nervous system. These effects throw off the brain’s delicate chemical balance, which in turn disrupts the brain’s reward system, the region that regulates thinking, emotions and behavior.
The ongoing influx of neurotransmitter chemicals wears away at brain structures and gradually creates a state of dependency on the drug. As brain structures deteriorate, bodily processes start to break down and users start to experience the damaging effects of the drug.
Increasing Tolerance Levels
With frequent use, ecstasy’s damaging effects on the brain start to impair neurotransmitter production processes. Individual brain cells secrete these chemicals in response to the body’s moment-by-moment needs.
Structural damage to cells weakens their ability to respond to ecstasy’s effects. The brain also has an “auto-adjust” feature that naturally decreases neurotransmitter production in response to ecstasy’s effects.
adThese mechanisms become the driving forces that promote abuse and eventual ecstasy addiction. As a result, users have to keep increasing their dosage levels in order to experience the desired effects of the drug. In turn, the drug causes more and more damage creating a vicious cycle of abuse.
After a week of frequent ecstasy use, users will start to experience withdrawal effects. Withdrawal effects develop in response to the brain’s increasing tolerance levels.
At this point, the brain has come to rely on ecstasy to help regulate bodily functions. When needed amounts of the drug are lacking, withdrawal effects occur.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, withdrawal episodes play an active role within the ecstasy addiction cycle, making it all more difficult for users to stop or limit their intake. Someone struggling with a full-blown ecstasy addiction will likely exhibit the following withdrawal symptoms on a frequent basis:
- Muscle twitching
- Excess sweating
- Mood swings
- Feelings of depression
- Anxiety episodes
- Muscle aches and pains
Lifestyle signs of ecstasy addiction are easiest to spot as the drug’s effects take a toll on a person’s quality of life over time. Lifestyle signs include:
- Relationship conflicts
- Money shortages
- Decline in personal hygiene and grooming
- Decline in overall health
- Problems at work
- Problems with the law
Over time, a person’s priorities and motivations change dramatically as the drug takes over. These changes inevitably come out in the choices he or she makes from day-to-day.