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Ecstasy Addiction Signs and Symptoms – Spotting an Addict

symptoms of ecstasy addiction

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Tests on ecstasy addiction have indicated a wide variety of results, all depending on the different types of substance used and measurements taken during these tests.

Table of Contents states that while it is known that users of ecstasy – in some cases better known as MDMA or Molly – report the following symptoms:

  • Increasing tolerance of the substance
  • Continued use despite awareness of the harm the drug may cause
  • Reduced responsiveness towards the drug (meaning higher doses are needed)
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not taking the substance

It is still difficult to assess Ecstasy dependency. The active oral dose of Ecstasy is considered to be a minimum of 75mg. Pure MDMA causes a flood of dopamine and serotonin into the synapses which disrupts the reuptake process of the serotonin neurons. The sensations generated both physically and psychologically are such that users would seek to achieve that same feeling again which would bring about a repeated use pattern.

Physical Ecstasy Addiction Signs and Symptoms

If one suspects that a loved one might be abusing Ecstasy, these may be  ecstasy addiction signs and symptoms to look out for:

dancing on ecstasy

  • An irregular sleep schedule can indicate Ecstasy use, as it works by increasing dopamine levels, as well as neurotransmitters norepinephrine in the body’s central nervous system.
  • Users show a lack of awareness when they get hurt. Typified by not noticing pain when it is caused.
  • Increased promiscuity – Ecstasy is also known as Love Drug or Hug Drug, the reason being that when someone uses Ecstasy, it binds to serotonin transporters, leading them to feel as though they are in love, sometimes with someone they had just met – this may lead to uncharacteristic behavior on the part of someone who has taken MDMA
  • User shows signs of ataxia – a loss of control of their body movements. When this occurs, a user may already be in the acute phase of Ecstasy withdrawal, which means that the serotonin is depleting. This should return to normal within 24 hours, but if not monitored carefully, it could lead to seizure (depending on the dose ingested).
  • Dilated pupils are always a clear indication. Take a torch and see if the users pupils are responsive to light. If not, it should be checked immediately by a health professional.
  • Unusually dry mouth. When the user speaks (often users may appear more animated and hyperactive than usual) their mouth may seem unusually dry, which makes it difficult to talk, this is as a result of the dehydration caused.
  • Along with the dry mouth, the user may clench his or her jaw or grind their teeth involuntary. When they smile, it almost looks like they are in pain. Together with the dry mouth, it may be difficult to follow a conversation with an Ecstasy user.
  • A person struggles to see. Their vision is extremely sensitive to light. Ask if they see anything wrong, if they say that the vision feels blurry, or that they see double, it could be side effects from using ecstasy.
  • The muscle tension of a user may be visible. if this is the case the tension should be quite notable.
  • Extreme sweating. An Ecstasy user who has recently ingested a tablet will perspire profusely. Ecstasy heats up the body and causes dehydration which also causes a dry mouth. Sweat will often have a yellow colored tinge.
  • Mania and depression. A person on Ecstasy will often seem hyperactive and energetic whilst rushing which is what users call one of the side effects of ecstasy. When a user comes down from a high they may experience feelings of anxiety, perceived memory-loss and sometimes depression which may last several days.
  • Their senses may be heightened, to a point of where they may seem exaggerated. A user will yearn for physical touch, whether it is from another person, or just holding an object that feels good. They may seem confused and overly alert when they return from a night of dancing when having consumed ecstasy.
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Behavioral Ecstasy Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Typical changes in the activities of an Ecstasy abuser may include:

  • High stimulation levels, heightened senses.
  • Staying awake for unusually long hours.
  • Unusually high energy levels.
  • Dancing non-stop for hours without feeling any fatigue
  • Abnormally friendly behavior.
  • Diminished inhibitions.

Ecstasy May Alter Reactions

Other Ecstasy addiction signs and symptoms may include changes in a person’s reactions. This can include:

  • An exaggerated sense of pleasure achieved by physical touch.
  • Being overly sensitive to light or noise.
  • A decrease in the perception of pain, often not even noticing pain when they get hurt.

Ecstasy May Alter How a User Feels

Ecstasy may cause changes in the way someone feels, to the point that it is visible for others. For instance:

  • An improvement in the user’s mood, euphoria may be noticed.
  • An ecstasy user may show exaggerated feelings of connectedness towards other people.
  • If a user abuses Ecstasy increased sexual arousal may occur as a result
  • An inability to judge how much time passes may be a symptom of MDMA use

Ecstasy Users May Have Other Complaints

Despite the fact that Ecstasy is a party drug which brings about feelings of euphoria, the side effects can become overwhelming for a problem user. Users are known to have complaints about symptoms which may be symptoms of another illness, however a combination of the listed symptoms would tend to indicate that these were caused by Ecstasy use:

  • Significantly increased, almost racing heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure and the side effects associated
  • Extreme muscle tension
  • Grinding teeth, caused by tightness of the jaw
  • User might feel faint or experience extreme fatigue
  • Chills or hot flushes, causing the skin to flush
  • Organ complications, such as pain above the kidneys, for no apparent reason. This can be caused by the increased body temperature when taking Ecstasy

Pills and Props of Ecstasy Addicts

  • Look out for small, colored pills. It may seem like a breach of privacy, but it could save a person’s life in the long run.
  • Candy necklaces – some of those may be Ecstasy tablets. Tablets or pills with imprints of product logos (auto maker logo or cartoon character for instance) usually each batch has a logo and is referred to as this e.g. “A Mitsubishi”.
  • An Ecstasy user will quite possibly have lollipops, or baby pacifiers lying around. These are used to alleviate problems with clenched jaw muscles caused by Ecstasy.
  1. DrugFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly). National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Kalant H. The pharmacology and toxicology of Ecstasy (MDMA) and related drugs. CMAJ. 2001;165:917–28
  3. Schifano F, Di Furia L, Forza G, Minicuci N, Bricolo R. MDMA (‘ecstasy’) consumption in the context of polydrug abuse: a report on 150 patients. Drug Alcohol Depend 1998;52:85-90.
  4. Parrott AC, Lasky J. Ecstasy (MDMA) effects upon mood and cognition before, during, and after a Saturday night dance. Psychopharmacology 1998; 139:261-8.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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