Ecstasy or MDMA is frequently used in social situations, music festivals, and parties because of the euphoric effects it creates. However, the risks of deadly temperature spikes, psychosis, and taking unknown substances cut with the drug often outweigh the stimulant’s high. If you are worried a loved one may have encountered or is abusing this substance, here are short- and long-term signs someone is using Ecstasy.
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What Are the Signs of Ecstasy/MDMA Use?
Sometimes it can be challenging to tell if someone is misusing Ecstasy because it can affect everyone differently, and there are often many variations in the quality of this drug when it’s purchased on the street. In general, some of the common signs of being on Ecstasy or MDMA include:
- Feelings of stimulation, energy and emotional warmth or the desire to be close to people near the user
- Being very awake or energized at strange times
- Overly friendly
- Extreme sense of empathy
- Jaw clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Increased tactile sensations and perceptions
- Distorted sense of time
- Increased self-esteem
One of the most dangerous side effects of MDMA is that it raises the body temperature of the person using it. When the body isn’t able to regulate its temperature properly, it can lead to temperature spikes that can then result in organ failure or death. Other side effects can include:
- Blurred vision
- Cramping of the muscles
- Impulsive behaviors
- Problems with sleep
- Decreased appetite
If someone takes a high dose of MDMA, it can put them in a psychotic state. This can lead to very strange behavior and delusions, which can be some of the most visible signs someone is on MDMA. Signs someone is in a psychotic state while on MDMA can include hallucinations, mania, and aggression.
When someone crashes after taking MDMA, they will often experience a crash of up to a few days that can include withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, problems sleeping, depression, and lack of appetite.
Most importantly, when people buy what they think is Ecstasy or pure Molly, it often contains other substances such as over-the-counter cough medicine, bath salts, or methamphetamine. Not knowing beforehand that you’re taking these substances makes them even more dangerous than otherwise.
If people then combine these substances with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana, the health risks are amplified even more.
What Are the Signs of Chronic Ecstasy/MDMA Use?
The short-term signs someone is on MDMA or Ecstasy are easier to pinpoint, but what about the long-term signs someone is using this drug Signs of chronic use can include:
- Problems sleeping
- Memory loss
- Lethargy or fatigue
In general, if someone is habitually using MDMA, they may also exhibit some of the general signs of drug abuse. These signs can include a decline in their physical health and their outward appearance, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, changes in sleep and eating habits, laziness or lethargy, mood swings, and secrecy.
People who are using Ecstasy regularly may also experience a general attitude of apathy, their interests and priorities may shift, they may seem paranoid or dishonest, and they may frequently borrow money or even resort to things like stealing. These individuals may also participate in riskier behaviors than they normally would have, including dangerous sexual activities.
How Does Ecstasy/MDMA Affect the Body?
Ecstasy or MDMA impacts the brain’s neurotransmitter interactions, changing how brain cells interact and communicate with one another. MDMA also influences dopamine (which is how it creates a feeling of euphoria) and serotonin (which triggers the hormones that affect emotions, including sexual arousal and trust). As a result, users tend to feel like they are sharing a sense of closeness with the people around them. Someone on MDMA may also experience feelings of energy, pleasure, and a sense of emotional warmth.
Using this drug can have serious health effects for your body’s temperature regulation system and cardiovascular system, and can lead to an early death. If you see any of the signs of MDMA and Ecstasy use, or you have a suspicion someone is on this drug, it’s important to speak with an addiction specialist.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “MDMA(Ecstasy) Abuse.” Research Report Series, March 2006. Accessed June 15, 2020.
Winsor, Morgan. “Electric Zoo music festival canceled after 2 deaths blamed on drugs.” CNN, September 3, 2013. Accessed June 15, 2020.
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