Drug Testing for Ecstasy


ecstasy testingAccording to the United Nation’s 2014 World Drug Report, Australians are the world’s biggest users of ecstasy, a dubious distinction that should worry every CEO, HR or safety officer of any company in the country. With the prevalence of ecstasy use and abuse in Australia, there is a great probability that its users are employed, and ecstasy at work is always a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, there are a number of solutions that employers and managers can apply for any ecstasy at workplace concerns.

What is ecstasy?

Ecstasy is a slang term for the chemical substance called methylene dioxy methamphetamine or MDMA. It was originally used by the US Army for psychological warfare tests in 1953 and as a psychotherapy aid in lowering inhibitions in 1960. It was only during the 1970s that MDMA or ecstasy has been used as a party and social drug.

Ecstasy is among the common illegal drugs being consumed in Australia. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2007, 8.9% of Australians aged 14 years and above have used ecstasy at some point in their life.

Taking a closer look at ecstasy

Also known by many different names such as the love drug, pills and pingas, ecstasy often comes in a tablet form that can easily be swallowed and consumed. These tablets come in various sizes, shapes, and colours, and are sometimes imprinted with familiar logos.

Effects of ecstasy in the body

Just like any other drug, the effects of ecstasy vary from one person to another, especially if factors such as the person’s weight, dosage of the drugs consumed, combination with other drugs, and the environment in which the drug is taken are to be considered. With a structure similar to amphetamines and hallucinogens, ecstasy often speeds up the activities in the central nervous system, while affecting perception and concentration.

Immediate effects of ecstasy in the body may include dilated pupils, heightened sensations, clenching of jaws, grinding teeth, increased heart rate, increased confidence and energy, anxiety, sweating, nausea, loss of appetite, aggression, and psychosis. Higher dosage causes convulsions, vomiting, hallucinations, floating sensations, and irrational behaviour.

An individual can overdose from ecstasy, and this can be very dangerous if they have an existing heart condition or breathing problem. Overdose from ecstasy can be characterized by increased blood pressure, heightened body temperature, elevated heartbeat, and hallucinations. These effects can trigger a more serious body condition that can further lead to death, such as heart attack, brain haemorrhage, blood clotting, kidney failure, and dilutional hyponatremia.

The effects of ecstasy are even more dangerous when users ingest pills presented as ecstasy, but is actually cut with unknown chemicals that can prove to be toxic. As a matter of fact, many of the reported ecstasy-related injuries and deaths during raves and music festivals can be attributed to fake ecstasy tainted with dangerous impurities.

ecstasy at workThe Impact of Ecstasy at Work

As a party drug, ecstasy is most commonly used at parties, raves and music festivals, which usually take place over a weekend. That, however, doesn’t mean its effects do not spill over on Monday, the first day of the work week. Like many other illicit drugs, ecstasy stays in the body for days, which means its effects will still be felt at work.

Even more worrisome is the idea that there are actually workers who “drop” ecstasy at work. While it does produce an energising effect, the way the drug affects one’s perception and concentration poses a danger in the workplace, especially when the person taking ecstasy at work is tasked with safety-sensitive jobs as operating heavy equipment or driving company cars. An ecstasy user can also suffer from reduced coordination and their ability to adjust speed and distance may also be affected. Their bolstered confidence also makes them more likely to take dangerous risks while driving. And if the employee has taken one of those ‘fake’ ecstasy pills that were cut with toxic compounds, that employee could collapse and suffer seizures and cause a workplace accident in the process.

Another ecstasy at workplace concern is the way the drug affects one’s behaviour. The behaviour of one who has taken ecstasy at work can best be described as irrational. Put hallucinations on top of that irrational behaviour and we are likely to have trouble in the workplace, with other workers feeling uncomfortable and in some cases, offended by the actions of a co-worker who is high on ecstasy at work.

When accidents caused by ecstasy at workplace concerns happen, employers are bound to pay for Workman’s Compensation claims. However, things could get worse for employers if an employee involved in one such accident files a case in court. The bills from litigation process can easily pile up in a short span of time, and it’s a headache no employer really needs.

What to do About Ecstasy at Work

Developing and strictly implementing a drug policy for the workplace is the best thing that an employer can do to address ecstasy at workplace issues. To protect the safety of everyone in the workplace, such a drug policy should include a provision for drug testing, and ecstasy testing in particular. With ecstasy drug testing, employers can determine who is impaired by ecstasy at work, and employers can take the necessary action as provided for by its workplace drug policy.

ecstasy drug testingEcstasy Testing

Ecstasy is one of the standard five drugs employers are required to test for within the Australian standard. The chemical structure of the drug is similar to amphetamines, so a person who takes ecstasy at work will fail random ecstasy drug testing upon the detection of amphetamines in the system. Detection periods for MDMA are also going to be quite similar to those for amphetamines, which means ecstasy can be detected for as long as four days after use. Urine testing and saliva testing are the most common methods used for ecstasy drug testing.

Tips to Detect Ecstasy Abuse at the Workplace

A worker who exhibits the following signs are likely to be abusing ecstasy at work. Keep in mind, however, that the signs listed below could be of other conditions, so always remember that only a qualified physician can make an exact and accurate diagnosis.

  • Apparent lack of inhibitions
  • Unusual bursts of euphoria
  • Heightened alertness
  • Very energetic
  • Paranoia
  • Excessive teeth grinding
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heightened sexuality
  • Memory loss

Developing a Comprehensive Ecstasy Safe Workplace Program

The best protection against ecstasy abuse is a solid drug and alcohol policy in the workplace. Such a policy should ideally have staff education and awareness programs and an ecstasy testing program.
If your company is interested in developing a comprehensive ecstasy safe workplace program and further information about ecstasy testing, please get in touch with us today for a confidential discussion.