The night started off exactly like the last few Saturdays…Chloe entered the club with her girlfriends. Soon after, each of them took a bundle of ecstasy. Not long after washing down her dose with water, Chloe felt the familiar effects of the drug.
Like other stimulants, ecstasy speeds up the nervous system. If we could see Chloe while she was “rolling,” we would notice her pupils had become extremely dilated. As she danced, her heart rate skyrocketed, her core body temperature spiked and her blood pressure increased. As with other hallucinogens, the ecstasy distorted Chloe’s reality, making the flashing lights and shadows more erratic and blurry than they were before.
The drug’s stimulation gave her a boost of confidence, a sense of well-being and a feeling of closeness to the strangers surrounding her. Once those feelings kicked in, Chloe knew the “love drug” was in full effect. If we could see Chloe’s brain, we would see huge amounts of a neurochemical known as serotonin surging. That’s what triggered the release of hormones that regulate feelings of love, trust and sexual arousal.
Coming Up, Plateau and Coming Down
At this point, Chloe had gone through the first two common phases of ecstasy use. “Coming Up” – when she felt the rush, and “Plateau” – when she felt happy and relaxed.
In another three to six hours, she will experience the “Coming Down” phase.
Because her brain has been depleted of serotonin, she will feel depressed, exhausted, irritable and confused. If she is like most ecstasy users, though, she will take another hit to prolong her high. Once she does come down, she will have trouble sleeping, feel anxious, and crave more of the drug.
The Same…but Different?
Chloe’s friend Parker had a different experience while on ecstasy. This is not surprising, since the drug often affects people differently.
Ecstasy’s ingredients often vary, though a lot of club-goers don’t realize it. Parker’s stash was from a different source. Because several ecstasy ingredients are hard to obtain, makers of the drug often substitute a wide range of things to create it, increasing the likelihood that users will either overdose, be poisoned or experience other harmful effects.
Like Chloe, Parker’s heart rate and temperature quickly increased. Both of them were put at risk of severe overheating, which can damage vital organs or even cause death. Parker, however, began to sweat a lot, feet anxious and grind her teeth. She got a headache and felt nauseous.
Believe it or not, Parker’s symptoms are also considered common effects of ecstasy. As a powerful stimulant, it can cause dehydration, hyperthermia and seizures. More serious side effects can include heart attack, brain hemorrhage, blood clots, kidney failure and death.
Is This What Ecstasy Feels Like?
Continued use of ecstasy will cause Chloe and Parker to develop a tolerance for the drug. But taking larger amounts will not increase the pleasing effects – it will only up the undesirable ones. Meanwhile, their continued use will cause brain damage and they will likely develop severe memory problems.
While use of ecstasy, real name MDMA (short for methylenedioxymethamphetamine), often produces only mild side effects, it does involve a huge risk for experiencing more harmful results. And since users frequently take it in combination with other drugs, the dangers further increase. Its hormonal effects also raise the chances for promiscuous behavior and transmission of STD’s.
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