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Substance Abuse Spotlight: Ecstasy Addiction
Ecstasy is a drug comprised of a synthetic chemical called MDMA, which is also known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Its effects on users have been described as being similar to mescaline or methamphetamines, and it is very popular at nightclubs. It is commonly used by teenagers and young adults, as a consequence, ecstasy addiction has become a growing drug problem among this age group.
Origins of Ecstasy
Ecstasy was first designed by a German pharmaceutical firm called Merck over 100 years ago. It remained largely unknown until the 1950s, when the American military begin experimenting with its potential as a psychological agent. By the 1960s a number of psychiatric institutions had begun their own experiments with the substance, and it was administered for the purpose of enhancing mood while reducing anxiety in social settings.
Ecstasy first appeared at parties and clubs in the 1970s. It was desired due to its ability to amplify pleasurable experiences, and its popularity continued growing until the mid-1980s when it captured the attention the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA made the decision to prohibit Ecstasy due to its risk of causing brain damage, and today it is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it is completely illegal and there are no circumstances under which it can be legally administered.
Immediate Effects Of Ecstasy Addiction
Ecstasy will usually be consumed in the form of a tablet. Shortly after ingestion the user will notice a number of effects, including an increase in energy and euphoria. The libido of the user will also be enhanced, leading to greater sexual desire. Ecstasy makes the user more focused and alert and physical sensations such as touch become more pleasurable and amplified. Ecstasy users have also reported their perception of time being altered. These effects will begin within 30 minutes of taking the substance and can last as long as six hours.
Ecstasy also reduces the need to carry out certain basic functions, such as drinking, eating or sleeping. This is due to its stimulant properties. These short term effects are both desirable and alluring, which is why the drug is so popular. However, as with all drugs, the long term effects are anything but desirable, especially when one becomes addicted to them.
Long Term Effects Of Ecstasy
Unpleasant side effects which are associated with long term usage of Ecstasy include nausea, chills or sweating, fever, fainting, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, blurred vision and hallucinations. In extreme cases Ecstasy can lead to brain damage or death, even for first time users.
There have been a number of well publicized cases where a high school or college student died when trying out the drug for the first time. One reason for this could be that Ecstasy which is sold on the street may be tainted and filled with contaminants which are designed to dilute its purity. Ecstasy overdose usually results from taking multiple pills simultaneously or taking a series of pills during a specific time span, a practice which is known among users as piggybacking.