Drugs capable of producing a range of different effects can cause that much more damage, especially when abused on a long-term basis. Ecstasy, a stimulant-hallucinogen type drug, falls in this category.
No doubt, the “club drug” culture that promotes ecstasy has led more than a few teenagers and adults down the road to addiction. The long-term “high” effects from ecstasy can produce damaging effects that last for years whether a person stops using the drug or not.
By the time a person is ready to part ways with the ecstasy, the discomfort brought on by ecstasy detox withdrawal can drive him or her right back to using again. In effect, the ecstasy detox process mirrors the widespread damage done to brain and body functions.
Without needed ecstasy detox treatment, addicts have a slim chance of making it through the detox stage. Likewise, the psychological effects of the drug can last long after a person completes ecstasy detox. For this reason, ecstasy detox aftercare treatment becomes equally important to help ensure a person’s continued success in recovery.
The name “ecstasy” is actually street jargon for the drug MDMA or 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine. MDMA acts as a powerful stimulant agent that disrupts brain and central nervous system functions.
In addition to MDMA, the ecstasy sold on the streets contains one or more added ingredients, some of which include:
- Ephedrine, another stimulant-type drug
- Ketamine, another hallucinogen-type drug
- Methamphetamine, another stimulant-type drug
According to Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, these added ingredients not only increase ecstasy’s addiction potential, but also further complicate the ecstasy detox withdrawal process.
With the exception of caffeine, each of the above additives interferes with the brain’s chemical processes on top of MDMA’s effects. As both stimulants and hallucinogens can produce widespread disruption throughout the brain, most every additive ingredient works to reinforce MDMA’S damaging effects.
Effects in the Brain
As a stimulant-hallucinogen drug, ecstasy interferes with brain functions in two different ways. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ecstasy’s stimulant effect increases the output of two primary brain neurotransmitter chemicals: norepinephrine and dopamine. Ecstasy’s hallucinogen effect increases the brain’s serotonin neurotransmitter levels.
These interactions interfere with a wide range of bodily functions, some of which include:
- Sensory perceptions involving time, space, colors, shapes, sounds, smells and body perception
- Heart function
- Thought processes
- Impulse control
With chronic ecstasy use, these effects soon produce damage to individual brain cells and brain regions, which accounts for why ecstasy detox withdrawal can be such a harrowing experience.
Ecstasy Detox Withdrawal Effects
Ecstasy detox withdrawal can last anywhere from two weeks to six months depending on the severity of the addiction. Symptoms most often experienced include:
- Extreme anxiety
- Appetite loss
- Memory problems
- Confused thinking processes
- Profuse sweating
The physical-type symptoms typically come and go within two weeks time; however, the psychological symptoms can persist for months thereafter. In cases of chronic, long-term drug use, ecstasy detox aftereffects can affect a person for years into the recovery process.
Ecstasy detox treatment offers addicts an effective means for breaking the body’s dependency on the drug. Considering the damage done to brain and body processes by the drug, people entering ecstasy detox will likely be in a fragile state in terms of their emotional and physical health.
Ecstasy detox treatment programs address the effects of addiction in steps that correspond with the stages of the detox withdrawal period. As different people enter treatment at different stages of addiction, certain factors may influence the type of treatment a person requires. Factors affecting treatment include:
- Single drug vs. poly-drug user
- Overall physical health
- Psychological health status
- Length of drug use
- Frequency of drug use
It’s not uncommon for addicts to engage in other forms of drug abuse along with using ecstasy, which will likely require a more intensive treatment approach. People who’ve developed medical or psychological problems since using ecstasy will likewise require a more comprehensive treatment approach. The same goes for people who developed medical or psychological problems prior to using ecstasy.
The length and frequency of drug use have a considerable influence on the severity of addiction, so chronic, long-term users will require intensive, ongoing treatment in order to maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis.
Detox withdrawal unfolds in two stages, where the first stage brings on the most intense of withdrawal symptoms. Ecstasy detox treatment programs may administer over-the-counter remedies to help relief some of the physical symptoms experienced.
Emotional and psychological distress best characterizes the symptoms that develop during the second stage of withdrawal. While many of these symptoms stem from the effects of addiction, symptoms become all the more intense in cases where a person struggles with a psychological disorder on top of the addiction.
Medications commonly used include:
- Benzodiazepines for anxiety
- Sedative medications for anxiety
- Antipsychotics for people experiencing psychotic-type symptoms, such as hallucinations, paranoia and delusions
While relieving the physical discomfort experienced during ecstasy detox makes up a big part of the treatment process, treating the physical aspects of addiction is only part of the ecstasy detox treatment process. Addiction stems from the psychological dependency that develops during the course of drug use.
As ecstasy effects throw brain chemical functions further and further off balance, the brain’s configuration changes in such a way that addicts comes to view ecstasy as essential to their day-to-day survival, according to Brown University Health Education. These effects can stay with a person for years.
Behavioral interventions used in ecstasy detox treatment work to help addicts replace addiction-based belief systems and behaviors with a mindset that doesn’t rely on drugs to function in everyday life. These interventions take various forms and are often used together to reinforce the overall “retraining” effect. Behavioral treatments commonly used include:
- 12-Step support groups
- Individual psychotherapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Motivation therapies
- Group therapy
- Drug education counseling
The behavioral treatments offered by ecstasy detox programs provide recovering addicts with a starting point in the recovery process. More oftentimes than not, ongoing behavioral treatment will be required.
Ecstasy’s effects last considerably longer than the duration of any one detox treatment program. Once addicted, a person remains locked inside the psychological grip of the drug’s aftereffects. For these reasons, treatment programs work with addicts on developing ecstasy detox aftercare plans to support a person’s ongoing recovery efforts.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, ecstasy’s effects can cause structural damage in the brain leaving a person highly susceptible to drug cravings and relapse. Ecstasy detox aftercare plans are designed to equip recovering addicts with the tools needed to overcome the lasting of effects of addiction.
Far too often, addicts complete detox only to turn around and start using within the first 30 days after treatment. Ultimately, a person’s willingness to follow-through on ecstasy detox aftercare treatment will determine his or her ability to maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Ecstasy’s Long-Term Aftereffects
While the ecstasy detox withdrawal stage does come and go, ecstasy’s long-term aftereffects pose just as much as a risk for relapse as the withdrawal period. One particularly distressing aftereffect has to do with the overall “flat” emotional state addicts experience for months or even years into recovery.
Chronic, long-term ecstasy abuse essentially depletes the brain of vital neurotransmitter chemicals. In addition, brain cell structures undergo considerable structural damage from overuse due to ecstasy’s ongoing effects. Consequently, the brain chemical processes that normally help to maintain a person’s sense of well-being and contentment fail to produce needed neurotransmitter supplies in the brain.
These aftereffects account for the extreme drug cravings recovering addicts can experience years after their last use. Ecstasy detox aftercare treatment provides a person with the supports and guidance needed to overcome ecstasy’s long-term aftereffects.
Counseling & Psychotherapy
Ecstasy detox treatment programs provide addicts with a solid introduction to the counseling and therapy process that makes addiction recovery possible. Through drug education counseling, detox programs equip addicts with a knowledge and understanding on how ecstasy use creates an addiction cycle within the body’s physical make-up.
For most people coming off an ecstasy addiction, psychotherapy treatment doesn’t end once a person completes detox, at least not for the people who’re able to maintain abstinence. Ecstasy detox aftercare treatment requires ongoing psychotherapy work, especially in cases where a person struggles with co-occurring psychological problems.
In effect, underlying emotional issues and conflicts can aggravate the urge to resume drug use. Ongoing psychotherapy treatment provides recovering addicts with the coping skills needed to work through underlying emotional issues and overcome daily urges to use.
Relapse prevention training takes on an increasingly larger role the further a person gets in the recovery process. In terms of ecstasy detox aftercare treatment, relapse prevention training becomes especially important once a person completes the detox stage.
Relapse prevention training provides a person with the following strategies:
- Learning to identify and avoid situations that trigger drug-using behaviors, such as certain people, places and activities
- Developing new interests
- Getting a sponsor
- Attending 12-Step support group meetings on a regular basis
In effect, ecstasy detox aftercare planning enables a person to pick up where he or she leaves off in detox treatment in terms of incorporating the types of daily living skills needed to maintain abstinence for the long-term.