The drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy, is a synthetic drug that alters one’s mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions).
The drug is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory of time.
It is a popular drug in the rave subculture, and it creates a euphoria that users say gives them a sense of connection to one another. The underground culture, which in recent times has become popularized, shares values of peace and love.
It is similar to the “hippy” culture from the 1960s that swept the United States. The drug of choice, in those times, was acid, but the drug of choice today is ecstasy.
Ecstasy use has declined among adolescents ages 12 to 17 in recent years, but it remains relatively high in adults. Ecstasy use, when recorded in 2014, was the highest among adults ages 18 to 25 where past use was reported at 0.8 percent of that population.
While the numbers are not staggering, more than a half million of the adults surveyed were current ecstasy users. There was a famous case in 2010 of a teenager attending a rave in Los Angeles who overdosed on ecstasy and lost her life after using the drug.
While it is just one of many stories, it demonstrates how someone can misjudge the strength of the drug and how it can kill you. It may not carry the same stigma that drugs like heroin or methamphetamine generate, but it can cause adverse effects on those who use the drug.
The drug is often taken for the feelings of pleasure it produces. The purpose is to take advantage of its ability to heighten emotional and sensory experiences. There are some forms of ecstasy that possess therapeutic use, but it remains a Schedule I drug because of its high risk for leading to drug abuse, and its high risk for causing harmful health effects.
The drug carries these risks even after a single use. Ecstasy is not technically addictive, but it is used excessively among people in its demographic of users. The chances of a fatal ecstasy overdose are relatively low, but they still do occur, and there are severe symptoms and side effects in the short-term and with repeated overuse.
Is It Possible to Overdose on Ecstasy?
Each year, ecstasy sends several thousand people to the emergency room. Some cases are life-threatening, as mentioned above, but others stem from bad trips that cause users to, in essence, lose their minds. Most ecstasy deaths, however, are caused by symptoms and side effects that have little do with the amount consumed.
Overheating and dehydration are the most common reasons why deaths involving ecstasy happen. One of the side effects of the drug is stimulation, and those stimulated tend to dance heavily to the music. When you add this to an overcrowded dance party or use in conjunction with alcohol, hypothermia, and dehydration are a real threat.
Another problem is when someone begins to feel dehydrated. Because their body is depleted of electrolytes, they consume too much water to combat the dehydration, but the body cannot process the excess water.
Another common occurrence in the ecstasy use scene is people using drugs that are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means you can’t be too sure of what is in the pills you’ve purchased. Ecstasy is typically manufactured in clandestine laboratories, and it is common to find that the tablets have been cut with cocaine, PCP, speed, ketamine, or opioids. Each pill can contain different levels of the active ingredient, MDMA, and if you take one and feel effect but counter by taking another, you could surpass your threshold.
How Much Ecstasy Will Make Me Overdose?
Recreational users will start their doses at anywhere between 50 and 150 milligrams. It is extremely common for users to binge when using the drug. When their initial dose begins to wear off, they’ll continue redosing throughout the night. Up to 500 milligrams (the equivalent of five pills) is typical among ravers. Statistics have shown there is no definitive answer when it comes to an ecstasy overdose, but there are others that show the range falls between 10-20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. That number translates to an extremely high dose to take too much ecstasy.
The most deadly characteristic of ecstasy is dehydration, overheating, hypothermia, and consuming adulterated pills. These factors are related to overdose more often than MDMA itself, but that does not mean it is impossible.
Ecstasy Overdose Symptoms
Due to one of its characteristics as a stimulant, ecstasy can cause overdose symptoms that are firmly related to methamphetamine.
Some of These Symptoms Can Include:
- Chest pain
- Cardiac arrest
- Memory loss
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Locked Jaw
If you or someone you love is experiencing something that does not seem normal, it is imperative that you contact emergency medical services by dialing 911 immediately. Remember, if you see something, say something. Each complication must be thought of as being fatal if left untreated. The consequences of being taken to the hospital are much less severe than being taken to the morgue.
Should I Detox?
Just because ecstasy is not physically addictive and the withdrawal process is not life-threatening, it does not mean detox should take place without medical supervision. Attempting to detox on your own places you in an uncomfortable process and vulnerable to relapse without the proper guidance.
With a medically monitored detox, you place yourself in a safe and controlled environment with the assistance of medical professionals. These professionals can provide anything you may need in case of an emergency. They will do everything possible to alleviate the discomfort during the withdrawal period and provide medications that counter nausea, chills, cravings, and depression.
What Is The Next Treatment Step?
Detox is an essential step in the recovery process, but it is not the only one. Keep in mind that ecstasy detox is the first step among many others. If detox is not followed up by a rehab program or aftercare, the chance of relapse increases significantly. Unfortunately, it can happen sooner than later.
There are several types of rehab programs, and because ecstasy is not addictive in ways such as heroin or other hard drugs, the process is often done on an outpatient basis. You will attend therapies geared toward changing behaviors and how you respond to stimuli. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a conventional and trusted method in the addiction community. Other therapies can include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
No matter the type of treatment that ends up being the most effective for you, what matters is making a conscious change in your life and achieving long-lasting recovery.
Start On the Road to Recovery Today
While ecstasy itself is not addictive, it can cause lasting damage if used excessively. Users may get more caught up in the lifestyle than the drug itself, but ecstasy will always be sought out and cause a dependence on the drug. You don’t have to be trapped in this lifestyle anymore.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder related to ecstasy or any other drugs in the club scene, there is help available. Speak to an addiction treatment specialist at Serenity at Summit to learn more about addiction and how it can be treated. Call 844-432-0416 or contact us online to learn more about your addiction therapy options. The first steps on the road to recovery may just be a call away.