The story of the man who took over 40,000 ecstasy pills over 9 years

He suffered both physical and mental long-term side effects.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Pile of pills
Pile of pills

fpm/iStock 

In April of 2006, doctors from London University revealed a case study of what they believed at the time was the largest amount of ecstasy ever consumed by a single person. They published a case report of a British man named only Mr. A estimated to have taken around 40,000 pills of MDMA over nine years, the most amount known to anyone.

They reported that the man then suffered from prominent physical and mental health side effects, such as extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression, as well as painful muscle rigidity around his neck and jaw, which often prevented him from opening his mouth. 

Now, a new interview with the British style magazine The Face has surfaced where Dr. Christos Kouimtsidis, a psychiatrist who coauthored the case study, explains why the man’s story is still so fascinating after all these years.

“For the first two years, he took five tablets every weekend,” Kouimtsidis wrote in the report. ​“It escalated to an average daily use of three-and-a-half tablets for the next three years, and further to an average of 25 tablets daily over the next four years.”

The story of the man who took over 40,000 ecstasy pills over 9 years
Ecstasy is often used to party.

Memory difficulties

“[Mr A] was brought to my attention because of his memory difficulties. That was his main problem,” Kouimtsidis further told The Face. “At that point, he was 37 and stopped taking any pills for seven years because kept collapsing at parties.”

The doctor explained that back then he suffered from several episodes of ​“tunnel vision” which eventually morphed into ​“severe panic attacks, recurrent anxiety, depression, muscle rigidity (particularly at the neck and jaw levels), functional hallucinations and paranoid ideation.”

Although ecstasy is not considered a particularly dangerous drug, but large amounts of any substance are bound to bring problems. “It is far less dangerous than many other drugs,” Kouimtsidis said. ​

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“But excessive use of any drug, legal or illegal, could lead to problems. So that was an exceptional case of high use over a prolonged period of time; typical use is not every day and not the amount of tablets he was taking. It was extreme, his use was really, really high. And then he went into withdrawals. He was unable to move for several weeks and had tunnel vision," the doctor explained to The Face.

Used for mood management

When asked why the man did so much ecstasy, the doctor replied it was more for mood management than pleasure. “As far as I remember, he had easy access to ecstasy,” Kouimtsidis recalled. ​“It was more like a management of his mood rather than excitement and having fun. It seems like he was very much into the club scene, providing ecstasy for himself and others and so forth.”

Kouimtsidis ended the interview with a warning for all drug users. ​“We need to be very careful how we use those extreme cases,” he said. ​“Because people might say, ​‘Oh, I have been using ecstasy for such a long time and I have no issues with my memory so it’s not relevant.” 

In the past, ecstasy has been used in the treatment of PTSD.