Rising to popularity during the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Ecstasy has earned a reputation as a “designer drug” used primarily in dance club settings.
Ecstasy’s active ingredient – known as MDMA – causes stimulant effects with hallucinogenic properties, causing users to experience a high laden with intense energy levels, tactile sensations, emotional lability and feelings of openness. As a result, those undergoing an Ecstasy trip (in a process colloquially known as “rolling”) feel an increased level of emotional connectedness, heightened sexual sensations and euphoria – largely due to the drug’s temporary effects on the brain’s neurochemistry.
What is Physical and Psychological Dependence
Widely used at makeshift, underground dance clubs known as “raves,” Ecstasy does not meet the traditional criteria for physical addiction.
While Ecstasy is not considered physically addictive, largely due to drug tolerance and neurochemical depletion, the drug can lead to psychological addiction – and even trigger the onset of severe physical and mental health problems with continued use. However, many Ecstasy pills are cut with less expensive drugs in order to facilitate cost-effective dealing – and secondary drugs used as “filler” (such as amphetamines) can lead to physical cravings upon cessation. For more addiction help, check out our homepage for help.
Addiction experts have agreed that one of the main factors in the formation of Ecstasy dependence is psychological addiction instead, as the brain’s reward centers become affected by the flood of serotonin unleashed by the drug in the brain. In fact, evidence of the Ecstasy pandemic – and resulting cases of Ecstasy addiction – have come to light in recent years, as the club drug has become the focus of an increasing amount of government- and public-health funded studies.
Dependence and Usage
- Over 8 percent of 12th graders surveyed admit to using Ecstasy at least one time within the prior 12 months.
- As of 2004, more than 11 million individuals across the United States admitted to Ecstasy use at least a single time over the course of their lives, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Nearly half a million Americans had used Ecstasy within the last 30 days, according to a 2004 national survey.
- A 2001 study found that 43 percent of Ecstasy users fulfilled the psychological criteria for diagnosis of a substance abuse dependency – including telltale signs such as withdrawal symptoms and lowered response upon repeated uses (indicating evidence of some level of drug tolerance).
- According to a literature review by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), prolonged and intense usage of Ecstasy can lead to issues with cognition and memory formation, storage and retrieval.
- Among emergency room visits in the last half of 2003, more than 2,200 cases involved Ecstasy use, according to The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).
- Patients arriving at emergency departments for conditions involving Ecstasy use were largely young adults, with most ER patients seeking medical aid for MDMA-related causes falling between the ages of 18 to 20 years old.
- Over large-4 columns of Ecstasy users meet the diagnostic criteria for drug abuse problems, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Ecstasy use and dependence spans a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities – a fact highlighted by the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. Nearly 4 percent of Caucasians, 3 percent of Hispanics, and 1.5 percent of African Americans had engaged in Ecstasy use in 2005 alone.
- Ecstasy use levels for young adults 18 to 25 vary by region of the country, with nearly 9.5 percent usage levels in the nation’s northeastern region, roughly 7 percent usage on the West Coast and southern regions, and a comparatively lower 4.6 percent usage rate in the country’s mid-western region.
- Those 25 and younger who used Ecstasy within the last year had a greater likelihood of having used additional illegal drugs over that time period, according to the 2003 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA).
- Nearly 98 percent of individuals who had used MDMA in the last 12 months had also imbibed alcohol within that time period, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report.
- Among the 25 and younger age set, Ecstasy use was a fair predictor of cannabis usage, as well. In fact, among the nation’s young adults, Ecstasy users had an 86 percent likelihood of using hashish or marijuana, whereas individuals who had not used Ecstasy in the past 12 months had a mere 18 percent chance of cannabis use.
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