|Ecstasy Addiction and Treatment|
Ecstasy was first patented in Germany in 1912 as a potential appetite suppressant though it wasn't until the 1970s that Dr. Alexander Shulgin introduced ecstasy to those with an interest in drug-assisted psychotherapy and medical and psychiatric journals began to present articles on its psycho-activity. In the late 1970s and early 1980s MDMA was used as a psychotherapeutic tool and also started to become available on the street. It gained wider popularity and at the time it was banned by the D.E.A, in 1985, many truck drivers had begun using it as a stimulant.
Source: Drug Experts Report a Boom in Ecstasy Use; WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM; New York Times; 2-26-00
Street doses of MDMA generally run from 50mg. to 150 mg. 100mg. or 1/10th of one gram is considered an average single dose. Usually pressed into pills or loaded into placebo capsules, the primary method of use is orally. A powder form of MDMA can also be sniffed but this is less common. Much less frequent than sniffing is the injection or smoking of the drug, though this does occur. There are a number of analogs (chemically similar substances) of MDMA that are commonly sold as ecstasy on the street. These include MDA and MDEA (known as "Eve"). Additionally, ecstasy is notoriously unreliable in content, much more so than most other street drugs. "Ecstasy" pills have been known to contain caffeine, ephedrine, amphetamines, MDA, MDEA, DXM, heroin, cocaine and often don't contain any MDMA or any psychoactive drug at all.
Mild to moderate doses of ecstasy produce a euphoric sense of well-being and a feeling of connectedness with and empathy for other people, an enhanced sense of pleasure and self-confidence and increased energy. This "love effect" has become most closely associated with ecstasy use. Its stimulant effect has made it a favorite on the club and "rave" circuits. In overdoses or misuses though, users can experience confusion, disorientation, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia, perceptual disorders and hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis.
Ecstasy has a physiological effect that is similar to amphetamine and cocaine. As such, studies have concluded that even mild to moderate use may cause changes in the way the brain produces and distributes neuro-transmitters (the chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, known to play a role in regulating mood, memory, appetite, sleep, aggression, sexual activity and sensitivity to pain.) leading to long-term depression and other mental illness (depending on the definition of "mental illness").
Physical Dependence: Reported but unconfirmed
Psychological Dependence: Moderate
To the degree that it has been researched, which is only superficially, MDMA has not been determined to be habit-forming. It should be noted, though, that virtually any substance can be addictive, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the user. It is a generally accepted notion among treatment professionals that the overall addiction, whether physical or psychological, is the problem, not the specific substance. Listed below are some treatment programs that may be useful for MDMA users as well as others: