Although their reputations are very different, cocaine is seen as a dangerously addictive and hardcore drug. Ecstasy is considered a party drug safe for teens. Cocaine and ecstasy have a lot in common, however. For instance, they both have similar effects and side effects.
Both cocaine and ecstasy are addictive drugs that interfere with brain chemistry to produce euphoria. The brain is a complex organ that shouldn’t be trifled with since it controls all vital organs and thought processes. When you change the chemical balance in the brain, there are no guarantees you can get it back to normal.
Perhaps the most serious commonality between cocaine and ecstasy is addiction. Neither drug is safe from addiction, and both are often used in combination with other dangerous substances like alcohol. Although cocaine may seem hardcore and ecstasy appears like a more innocent substance, they should both be avoided.
Cocaine enjoyed great popularity in the US until it was banned in 1922. Cocaine was used in a number of health tonics and was even included in Coca-Cola, making the young soft drink extremely popular. In the early 1900s, cocaine was used openly by a number of famous people, including stars of the silent film industry who promoted its benefits to the public.
In the 1970s, cocaine made a comeback in Hollywood and with successful businesspeople. It became part of the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous and a status symbol. Those who could afford it used cocaine to imitate their favorite movie stars or to show off their success. Cocaine use increased on college campuses as well.
By the end of the 1990s, cocaine production was up. Prices went down, and it was no longer the drug of the rich and famous. People from all neighborhoods were trying it and getting hooked. Reality caught up with cocaine’s reputation, and it was understood to be one of the most addictive drugs there is.
Cocaine is an addictive stimulant derived from the coca plant. In its white powder form, cocaine is snorted or mixed with water and injected. Cocaine can be used to make Crack, a crystal rock, that can be smoked. When it is heated, Crack releases a vapor that is inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. The high from cocaine can last anywhere from five to 30 minutes depending on how it is taken.
Street names for cocaine include:
- Nose candy
Cocaine affects the central nervous system by interfering with normal brain chemicals. Your brain uses these chemicals — called neurotransmitters — to send signals to your body. Cocaine disrupts the functioning in the pleasure centers of your brain which is where it produces the high. By flooding your brain with feel-good chemicals, cocaine creates a euphoric feeling greater than anything your brain could produce naturally.
The addiction to cocaine can form very quickly. The high is short-lived, leaving the user looking for more. Cocaine is often consumed in binges of several rapid hits in a short period of time. As your brain adjusts to the presence of the drug, it takes a larger dose to produce the same effects. Cravings and rapidly increasing doses lead to addiction.
Cocaine not only produces a high in the brain, but it also has serious effects on the body. Cocaine side effects can include:
- Dilated pupils
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased appetite
- Increased body temperature
- Abdominal pain
Even limited exposure to cocaine puts you at risk for a number of different health conditions, many of which can result in death.
Withdrawal is what happens to your body when you take a drug regularly and then stop. With cocaine, withdrawal symptoms can be felt within an hour of your last dose, and they are one thing that accelerates addiction. The initial onset of withdrawal makes you feel like something isn’t right. A natural reaction at that point is to take more drugs to escape the strange feeling, and it works by bringing the euphoria back.
This vicious cycle of taking more drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of addiction. To break the addiction, you will have to end the cycle, stop taking drugs and live through the pain of withdrawal. Deciding to detox is the first big step to addiction recovery. It requires strength, commitment and professional assistance.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased appetite
- General discomfort
- Vivid dreams
- Restless behavior
There are no drugs approved to treat cocaine addiction, but medically supervised detox is recommended. It is never a good idea to quit taking a drug without the oversight of a doctor, and cocaine is especially dangerous. Because cocaine affects the functioning of vital organs, suddenly eliminating it from your system could have serious consequences. Doctors will monitor your vital signs during the detox period and can intervene to regulate your heart rate and breathing if necessary.
Beyond detox, cocaine addiction recovery requires significant counseling to deal with underlying mental illnesses, causes of the addiction and triggers for relapse.
It is possible to overdose on any drug, even those that are supposed to be medically necessary. Drugs are foreign chemicals added to the body to create a change, but most of them are toxic substances. When taken in larger amounts than recommended, any of these substances can cause serious health risks or death.
Cocaine has a particularly high rate of overdose which peaked in 2006 at about 7,500. There were approximately 5,700 cocaine overdoses in the US in 2014. Despite this reduction, the overall rate of cocaine overdose rose 42% from 2001 to 2014.
The details of cocaine overdose have only recently been discovered in an attempt to develop a drug that might reverse the effects. The cells in your body go through a housekeeping process called autophagy, during which they eat their own waste. An overdose of cocaine stimulates this process, and it gets out of control. The cells in your brain actually eat themselves, destroying not just waste but vital structures within the cells. Your body cannot survive this rapid cell death in your brain.
In addition to rapid cell death, cocaine overdose can trigger fatal physical effects such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. A combination of cocaine and alcohol presents an even greater risk of overdose than either drug taken separately.
Ecstasy or MDMA
Another drug that developed mainstream popularity through the media is ecstasy. Even if you have never been involved in the drug scene, chances are you’ve heard of ecstasy. It was considered a safe party drug back in the 1980s and was even mentioned in movies and TV shows like the popular “Sex in the City.”
Originally developed in the early 1900s as MDMA, ecstasy was used in the 1950s for psychological warfare and then in the 1960s as a psychoanalytic. Though the FDA never approved its use on humans, MDMA was believed to reduce inhibitions, facilitate communication and increase personal insights.
Ecstasy is a psychoactive drug that comes in a pill form. It provides increased energy for all-night dance parties and other prolonged activities. Ecstasy also distorts perceptions and increases physical pleasures. The effects of a single dose of ecstasy, about 60-120 milligrams, can last up to six hours.
Once in the bloodstream, the drug travels to the brain and interferes with neurotransmitters, the chemical messaging system for the central nervous system. Ecstasy primarily affects three neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Each neurotransmitter is involved in specific functions of the body and brain. These are some of the behaviors governed by the three neurotransmitters affected by ecstasy use:
- Serotonin: mood, sleep, pain, appetite
- Dopamine: movement, motivation, reward
- Norepinephrine: heart rate, muscle contractions
In the pleasure centers of the brain, dopamine is normally recycled. Ecstasy, however, prevents the re-uptake of dopamine, allowing it to flood the brain with that euphoric feeling. Long-term use of ecstasy can permanently damage the brain’s ability to produce enough dopamine to feel any amount of pleasure. Ecstasy also interferes with the re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, which affect mood and muscle contractions.
As a street drug, ecstasy does not always deliver the same dose of active ingredients, so the effects can vary widely. Ecstasy or MDMA have a number of street names including:
- Hug drug
- Lover’s speed
- Love drug
- Scooby snacks
Street drugs have the added risk of not being regulated, so you cannot rely on their purity. As ingredients become restricted and harder to obtain, illegal drug manufacturers change their formulas without warning. Even sticking with the same branding mark on the pills cannot ensure you are getting the same mix of ingredients every time.
MDMA Side Effects
Side effects are a given with any drug, medicinal or recreational. Sometimes you don’t realize the side effects until after the high has worn off, and side effects usually compound with continued use.
The side effects of MDMA use include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Decreased libido
- Irregular sleep patterns
It is awfully ironic that something referred to as a party drug produces sadness and aggression, but that is the reality for most drugs. They may have the desired effect, but they are usually not worth it in the end. A drug can change your mood and make you more energetic, but you won’t stay like that forever. The higher you go, sometimes the harder the fall.
Prolonged use of MDMA can also cause these adverse health effects:
- Muscle cramping
- Kidney failure
- Blurred vision
- Heart failure
This is where your long-term health effects come from. The cumulative effect of making your heart race for a few minutes every day can wear it out. The chemical changes in the brain that result from MDMA use can create permanent changes in your vital organ functioning.
It is important to know the signs of drug overdose because immediate treatment could be life-saving. The signs of Ecstasy overdose include:
- Panic attacks
- Urinary retention
- Chest pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Muscle cramps
- Loss of consciousness
If you are at a party or a club and suspect that someone is suffering an MDMA overdose, you should call for medical help right away. Try to find out what the person has taken and hold on to any remaining pills. When medical personnel arrive, they will need the leftover pills to determine exactly what the toxic substance is.
Cocaine and Ecstasy Together
Although there is not much research available on the use of cocaine and ecstasy together, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. Internet forums where people discuss their drug activities are full of stories of mixing these two drugs, so we can assume it is a bit of a trend.
Regular drug users seem to discount the severity of ecstasy. They talk about it like it is candy, which is odd since its effects last far longer than those of cocaine. If all you knew about ecstasy was that it was a fun party drug, you might assume there was no danger in adding it to your regular routine. A cocaine high lasts for only a few minutes and the withdrawal includes depression. Ecstasy is considered a way to ease that depression as you come down from a cocaine high.
All of this is amateur science at best and is completely wrong. Mixing ecstasy and cocaine is extremely dangerous — it is a sure recipe for overdose. The side effects of each drug are very similar, so while the cocaine has increased your blood pressure, the ecstasy will increase it further. The same goes for body temperature. If each one of those vital statistics becomes too high, the result is death.
Once you have one of these substances in your body, you cannot control its effects. By adding another substance that does the same thing, you are only compounding the effects. Your attempt to increase the length of your euphoric trip could easily shorten your life.
Cocaine vs Molly Effects
Cocaine and Molly — another name for ecstasy — are both stimulants that produce a sort of euphoria that users crave. One of the side effects of each drug, however, is an extremely low mood following that high. Both drugs are also similar in the way they affect the brain. They work on the same three neurotransmitters, and therefore, cause many of the same side effects.
Cocaine and Molly are more similar than they are different. They may have developed different reputations in mainstream society, but they are both addictive and dangerous. Cocaine has a longer history as a recreational drug, but both cocaine and Molly were considered party drugs at the height of their popularity.
Get Help for an Addiction
If you are struggling with addiction or related mental illnesses like PTSD, contact 12 Keys to learn more about possible treatment options. Addiction is a serious problem that requires professional assistance to overcome. Whether you are addicted to cocaine, MDMA or a combination of other substances, help is available.
Facing your addiction problem and asking for help is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but no one recovers from addiction on their own. You may think you can limit your drug use and wean yourself off these substances, but that is not possible. When it comes to drugs like cocaine and MDMA that work in the pleasure centers of your brain, the force of addiction is stronger than you think.
Addiction is a disease that affects your brain no matter how resilient you think you are. Some people develop an addiction after just one use, but no matter how long you have been abusing substances, 12 Keys can help you break free. Our experience with addiction recovery can assure you receive the right type of treatment for your situation.
Walking away from a substance abuse lifestyle can be scary because you don’t know what is on the other side. But substance abuse can kill you, and recovery could save your life. Let 12 Keys guide you to a healthy, happy, substance-free life. Our individualized approach to addiction recovery will give you the support you need to take this important step for your health.
At 12 Keys, you will get the compassion and understanding you deserve. We recognize how hard it is to make these changes in your life. Whether you tried drugs one time at a party or have been self-medicating your emotional pain for years, addiction has you on the wrong path. We can get you onto the right path to healing.
Learning the difference between cocaine and MDMA is important, but realizing how they are the same is critical. They are both addictive drugs that will lead to unhappiness, failed relationships, broken families and ruined careers. The knowledge that can help you is an understanding of addiction, how it works and how to move past it to a healthy life. At 12 Keys, we have that knowledge and are ready to share it with you.
Contact 12 Keys to learn more about addiction treatment modalities, holistic healing and dual diagnosis. Our comfortable healing environment offers you all of the tools for a successful recovery from addiction. Let us begin helping you today.