Popularly known as a ‘club’ drug, Ecstasy is commonly sold in nightclubs in pill and powder form. In powder form, Ecstasy is known as MDMA.
7.4% of adults aged 16 to 24 years had taken a Class A drug in the last year (approximately 467,000 people); this was not significantly different from the previous year (8.7%).
Ecstasy generally makes people who take it very happy and euphoric for a short period of time – this is known as a ‘high’. It also makes a person feel very affectionate towards total strangers they are with, overwhelmed or in awe of objects and people, and highly energetic. People under the influence of Ecstasy typically lose their inhibitions and become very talkative. They may also do or say things that are completely out of character.
From experimentation to full-blown addiction, what causes someone to develop a drug dependency? Ecstasy addiction can be the result of a combination of different factors; some of which may be beyond your control.
Spending time around people who abuse drugs can be influential. Parental guidance also plays a big part in the likelihood of someone developing an addiction. Children who are exposed to drug abuse at a young age are more at risk of developing their own problems.
Peer pressure can result in recreational drug use, particularly when exposed to the party scene. Teens may be especially prone to engaging in risky behaviours, as the areas in their brains that control judgement and self-control are still developing.
While some people may be able to use Ecstasy recreationally, others will feel a strong impulse to consume it to excess. Drugs, such as Ecstasy, can induce feelings of pleasure which trigger the brain’s reward centre and encourage repetition of the behaviour.
Neuroscience has shown that people have varying levels of ability and brain function to control impulsive urges. If these genes are passed down through generations, family members are more prone to developing drug problems.
Different psychological factors can increase the risk of substance misuse. Drugs are often used to suppress emotional stress and relieve the symptoms of a range of mental health issues, from depression to anxiety. Repeatedly turning to Ecstasy to ease emotional pain or trauma increases tolerance. Over time, self-medicating in this way can become habitual and co-occur with a mental health disorder.
Repeated use of Ecstasy can lead to changes in the brain that challenge self-control. Over time, the brain’s reward system becomes less responsive to Ecstasy . This effect is known as tolerance. The high felt initially becomes much less intense and you may need to take more of the drug to try and achieve the same feeling. Long-term Ecstasy use affects the brain’s chemical systems and functions.