5 Startling Signs You Need a Detox from Party Drugs
Club drugs or party drugs such ketamine, hallucinogens, and MDMA (also known as Molly or ecstasy) are generally considered to be a safe, recreational, even beneficial outlet by most of the people who use them. You may take them as a way of increasing your energy so you can keep partying or dancing, or for increasing your feelings of affection and connection with other people. However, party drugs are far from harmless.
Unfortunately, party drugs can cause a number of unpleasant, dangerous, and even deadly side effects. They are unpredictable drugs, with reactions that vary enormously between different individuals. What one person considers a small, “you’ll barely feel it” dose of a party drug could put another person in the hospital.
Also, contrary to what most users and dealers claim, party drugs can be addictive. You may think that you are just a casual, social user, when in fact you are struggling with a serious problem that could have long-term consequences for your health and happiness.
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Party drug users in their twenties take drugs to increase their enjoyment of, and energy during, parties, concerts, clubs, or even hanging out at a bar. Some people take them to escape from their everyday life, or to self-medicate emotional or mental problems. People with social anxiety are also drawn to party drugs because these substances tend to decrease inhibitions and promote feelings of happiness and social connection.
MDMA/ Ecstasy /Molly
MDMA, also known as Molly or ecstasy, is the most popular party drug today. It heightens sensory perception, increases feelings of empathy and affection, and produces euphoria. Naturally, all these effects make the drug a natural choice for anyone who wants to take something to amp up their night out.
But the drug has unpleasant effects as well, such as chills, dehydration, muscle cramps, profuse sweating, confusion, anxiety, and increased body temperature – which can rise so sharply as to lead to heart, liver, or kidney failure, and death. Ecstasy also leads to higher rates of risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, and like many party drugs, has been used as a date rape drug, because someone who has unknowingly ingested MDMA can be easily victimized and is in no shape to give consent.
Another danger with MDMA is that a large number of pills—up to 75%—that are purported to contain ecstasy do not contain any ecstasy at all, or are cut with other drugs. The “ecstasy” pills that do not contain MDMA are usually amalgamations of other club drugs, like ketamine, and less expected drugs such as ephedrine, heroin, and PCP.
MDMA causes the brain to flood with the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with pleasure, sleep cycles, heart rate, motivation, and contentment. This extreme rush of serotonin leads to heightened senses and sensitivity, and can create intense feelings of intimacy with other people. Users also experience lowered inhibitions.
As MDMA wears off, the user feels drained and burned-out, because their brain has been depleted of serotonin. This causes depression, impaired cognition and memory problems, sleep difficulties, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, and increased anxiety, aggression and impulsiveness. This “cracked-out” feeling can last for up to two days, while the brain struggles to recover normal levels of neurotransmitters. Repeated use—which frequently happens as users want to feel good again—can lead to long-term damage to brain chemistry and brain cells that could last for years, or even prove to be permanent.
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Cocaine is the second most popular illegal drug in the world after marijuana. It became famous as a party drug in the 1970s, because of its energizing and euphoric effects, as well as its reputation for augmenting sexual performance and pleasure. Cocaine speeds up the nervous system, thereby increasing energy, and releases a euphoric flood of dopamine in the brain. Like serotonin, dopamine is associated with pleasure and motivation, and is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the brain’s “reward system,” which trains you to repeat life-sustaining activities such as eating and sex. In the case of cocaine, dopamine can train you to repeat drug use.
Ironically, the drug with a reputation for enhancing sex will impair sexual function with repeated use. Cocaine can also cause elevated body temperature, high blood pressure, headache, anxiety, erratic behavior, paranoia, heart attacks, seizure, psychosis and stroke. It has even been shown to speed up HIV infection. Like ecstasy, cocaine can damage the brain’s neurotransmitter system, promoting addiction, and leading to withdrawal symptoms of fatigue, depression, insomnia, brain fog, agitation, and more. Long term use can eat through the cartilage inside your nose and/or cause you to permanently lose your sense of smell. It can also lead to bowel decay as a result of decreased blood flow. If you are addicted to cocaine, it is best to start your treatment with a cocaine detox.
Ketamine, also known as Special K or Vitamin K, is a dissociative drug that is used as an anesthetic in veterinary practices, and in rare occasions, for humans who have poor reactions to other anesthetics or who need an anesthetic that is not deeply sedating. It is considered a dissociative drug because it produces feelings of detachment from your surroundings and yourself, while also distorting perceptions of sight and sound. Some users experience hallucinations that are influenced by stimuli in the environment—an effect that increases its appeal as a party drug.
Some people enjoy the visions and feelings of detachment, but many users report feeling frightened of what they experience, especially when taken along with some of the drug’s other effects, such as sedation, slowed breathing, confusion, difficulty speaking, and difficulty moving or paralysis. These effects have led to ketamine being used as a date rape drug. Ketamine can also cause problems with learning, memory, and attention; memory loss and blackouts, unconsciousness, and high blood pressure. Breathing may slow to the point where oxygen deprivation leads to death. Long term users suffer poor memory, depression, stomach pain, kidney issues, and pain and ulcers in the bladder. Persons in withdrawal from ketamine may experience all the above issues as well as severe fatigue and appetite loss.
Although ketamine can be considered a hallucinogen, its hallucinatory effects are not as strong as drugs like DMT, peyote, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD.
These hallucinogens completely distort sensory perception and the ability to recognize reality, to perceive time and the self, and to think and communicate.
With a mild trip on hallucinogens, the user is aware that their perception is altered, but quite often users get lost in a frightening sense of unreality, feeling out of control and dissociated from their bodies, which can lead to strange, dangerous behavior as they react to their hallucinations.
Hallucinogens can cause heart rate abnormalities and respiratory depression, as well as episodes of psychosis (sometimes called “flashbacks”) that can occur long after the drug has left the user’s system. Although popular belief holds that hallucinogens are not addictive, this is not true. They can produce craving, obsessive drug-seeking behavior, and withdrawal symptoms. Because most hallucinogens damage neurotransmitter production, withdrawal leads to a disruption in bodily processes that depend on those neurotransmitters.
Physical withdrawal symptoms include fluctuations in body temperature, increased rate of breathing, raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, tremors, muscle stiffness, and seizures. Psychological symptoms include low impulse control, feelings of rage, difficulty speaking, drastic mood swings, psychotic episodes, and panic attacks.
5 Signs You Need to Detox from Party Drugs
1. Partying has started to affect your day job.
When nights out with party drugs start to impact your day job by causing you to miss work, show up high or hungover, miss deadlines, or otherwise fail to meet professional obligations, you probably need an MDMA detox. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has a list of symptoms that can be used to establish the pattern of problematic behavior that is diagnosed as substance use disorder. One symptom on the list is when you spend a lot of time obtaining drugs, using drugs, or recovering from the effects of drugs, which includes letting drug use and its aftermath seep into your work life. Another symptom is when repeated drug use results in a failure to live up to responsibilities at school, work, or home.
2. You need more of the same substance to get high.
When you find yourself needing to take more and more ecstasy or another party drug to experience the same high you got from your first few uses, you are probably in need of an ecstasy detox. Over time, the repeated use of any drug can lead to a tolerance to that drug’s effects. This is a sign that your body has become dependent on the substance, and mechanisms in your brain have adjusted to compensate.
3. You can’t have a night out without using.
When you get to the point where you can go out and have fun without using party drugs, you probably need to detox. This indicates both drug craving and dependence, and reflects two more of the DSM-5’s diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder. It also indicates that your brain chemistry has been altered by your use of party drugs, making it more difficult for you to experience pleasure without chemical help.
4. Party drugs have stopped being just an occasional social outlet.
When drug use shifts from being Saturday night fun to a part of your regular life, you may need to detox. Using party drugs during the week, to reward yourself, to let off steam, or to give yourself a treat is a sign that you have become psychologically addicted to the way these drugs make you feel. Hiding your drug use from others and using alone are also bad signs—they’re supposed to be “party” drugs, after all. Taking a drug more often, in larger amounts, or over a longer period than you intend to; being unsuccessful at controlling or cutting down your drug use, and strong cravings or compulsions to use the drug, are all on the DSM-5 list of criteria for substance use disorder.
5. You are experiencing health issues.
When you continue to use party drugs despite side effects, overdose, or other health complications due to your drug use, you definitely need a MDMA detox. The DSM-5 lists repeatedly using drugs when it is physically hazardous to do so, and using drugs despite suffering a physical or psychological issue that was caused by or is worsened by your drug use, as two more signs of a substance use disorder—and two particularly dangerous ones, at that.
What should you do next?
You need to seek professional help from a medical detox and addiction treatment center. Consider asking your friends or family members for help—maybe one or more of them have already expressed concern about your use of party drugs. Unless they are suffering from their own substance use disorder, your loved ones will be happy to help. You may also want to talk to your doctor call a hotline to have an addiction treatment specialist connect you to the best treatment available in your area.
Don’t wait to seek treatment, especially if you have been mixing pills with alcohol. This combination increases the enjoyable effects of both drugs, but it also increases the risk of fatal physical reactions. In addition, mixing party drugs with alcohol makes both substances more addictive, and will result in unusually unpleasant, and possibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms—another reason to seek a professional, medical detox.
Detox Treatment for Party Drugs
Inpatient detox and treatment is usually the best option for anyone seeking to overcome substance use disorder. Having 24-hour medical monitoring and withdrawal management as you undergo ecstasy detox or detox from any party drug will give you the safest, most comfortable detoxification possible. It will also protect you from giving into the temptation to use again.
Although the acute phase of detox usually lasts only a week, recovery does not end there. You need to continue treatment in an inpatient or outpatient program, and after discharge, to take part in community resources such as peer support groups to help you maintain recovery.