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Ecstasy Rehab Center: Treatment for Abuse and Addiction

Ecstasy, the street name for the chemical MDMA is a stimulant that combines the properties of speed with mind-altering or hallucinogenic properties, and is extremely addictive, like cocaine and amphetamines. People have died because of some of the substances inadvertently created during manufacture. Ecstasy may also be produced to contain methadone, LSD, heroin or fentanyl, or strong anesthetics such as ketamine.

Ecstasy is commonly used by young people around high school or college age; students who use ecstasy regularly, commonly lose interest in school and suffer academically, to the point of dropping out of school, losing a job, or getting in trouble with the law.

Ecstasy is usually sold as a tablet, capsule, or powder. It is sometimes packaged in capsules or generic tablets to imitate prescription drugs. It goes by names such as adam, X-TC, clarity, essence, stacy, lover’s speed, and eve. It is classified as a dangerous narcotic with high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use. Possession, delivery, and manufacturing of ecstasy can be punished by fines up to $100,000 and up to 99 years or life in prison.

Effects of ecstasy can be upbeat mood, relaxed feelings, and a high energy level, but ecstasy has very serious negative effects, which occur during and sometimes weeks after use: confusion, sleep problems, violent and irrational behavior, blurred vision, acne-like rash, brain damage, nausea, liver damage, convulsions, and tremors. Ecstasy poses an increased risk for users with circulatory or heart disease.

A number of recent studies show that memory is significantly affected by ecstasy use. Ecstasy causes long-lasting damage to brain serotonin neurons. Serotonin is important for memory functions, and plays a role in regulating mood, aggression, impulse control, sexual activity, and sensitivity to pain, memory, sleep, and appetite. One study administered several standardized memory tests to ecstasy users and non-users. The users had significantly greater difficulty remembering what they had seen and heard during testing. In another study, ecstasy users were found to have lower levels of a serotonin metabolite in their spinal fluid than people who had not used the drug. Also, the level of metabolite detected corresponded directly to the level of ecstasy use– the more ecstasy used, the lower the metabolite. And those who had the lowest metabolite performed the poorest in memory tests. It has been found that heavy ecstasy users experience memory problems for at least 2 weeks after taking the drug. One experiment of note was conducted by The Johns Hopkins University. They used monkeys and exposed them to ecstasy for 4 days, which caused damage that persisted even 6 to 7 years later, although it had lessened over time.
Dr. Joseph Frascella of NIDA's Division of Treatment Research and Development states that, "The message from these studies is that MDMA does change the brain and it looks like there are functional consequences to these changes. At the very least, people who take ecstasy even just a few times, are risking long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with learning and memory," says Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
According to another Johns Hopkins/NIMH study, ecstasy use may also be the cause of problems with other cognitive functions, such as the ability to reason verbally or sustain attention.

A word on Herbal Ecstasy: despite the misleading name, herbal ecstasy is not a safe, natural version of ecstasy. It is not currently classified as a controlled substance like ecstasy, but what makes it extremely dangerous is that there is no quality control over the manufacture of herbal ecstasy. The stimulants in herbal ecstasy, ephedrine (ma huang) or pseudoephedrine and caffeine (kola nut), closely simulate the effects of ecstasy. The amounts of ephedrine and caffeine in the pills can vary a lot, with dangerous amounts leading to serious effects such as high blood pressure, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and death. The FDA is considering placing restrictions on the herbal ecstasy.

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