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MDMA is a stimulant-hallucinogenic research chemical originally created in 1912 by Merck. It gained popularity in the 1980s rave/dance scene and is especially known for being a potent empathogen. MDMA is commonly sold in powder form, thought to be purer than pills (‘ecstasy’). The contents of ecstasy pills are unpredictable and can be a combination of MDMA, caffeine, ketamine, MDA, methamphetamine, PMA, and many others.
Spread out re-doses
The same pill/powder may take 30 minutes to have and effect for one person and 3 hours for another. Avoid re-dosing before you feel the effects.
Stay hydrated, but don't drink too much. 250–500ml (one or two standard glasses) per hour is recommended.
MDMA affects your body temperature. Take a break: go outside or sit down from time to time to cool down.
Effects of MDMA
Here are the most common effects, not everyone necessarily experiences all of them every time they consume the drug and other effects not listed might be felt. The likelihood of experiencing negative effects is far greater at high doses.
The effects are (from positive to negative):
- Mood lift (mild to extreme)
- Talkative and sociable
- Increase in energy
- Feelings of comfort and belonging
- Increased empathy
- Increased appreciation of music
- Increased pleasure from the sense of touch
- Decreased appetite
- Visual distortion: mild hallucinations
- Rapid involuntary eye jiggling
- Change in body temperature regulation
- Unexpected emotions
- Strong desire to take more MDMA when coming down
- Mild to extreme jaw clenching, tongue and cheek chewing, and teeth grinding
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired ability to focus eyes/blurred vision
- Inability to fall asleep when physically tired
- Erectile dysfunction and difficulty reaching orgasm
- Increase in body temperature, dehydration
- Nausea and vomiting
Dose and onset
How? How Much? When? For how Long?
As with any drug, the correct dose for you depends on factors such as weight, gender, metabolism, whether you have taken the drug recently or not, amongst many others.
Read our section on dosing and tolerance in ME for more information.
How you take MDMA matters...
MDMA usually comes in a powder or pill form, and is ingested orally.
MDMA is also sometimes taken nasally. The effects take shorter to appear, but this is not recommended, as it decreases the length of the experience, cause nasal pain and can cause a more severe comedown. If you were to snort MDMA, make sure the powder/crystal is finely crushed. Clean your nostrils after snorting and alternate them if snorting more than once.
How much MDMA?
- Small/sensitive people/first timers: 60-90mg
- Recommended dose for most people: 75-125mg
- Large/less sensitive people: 110-150mg
- Strong dose: 150-200mg
- Heavy dose: 200mg+
Guideline by body weight: 0.7mg per lb, or 1.54mg per kg
Optional redose: half of the original dose, 2–3 hours in.
Use a scale to measure the exact amount of MDMA you would like to take.
When do the effects of MDMA kick in and for how long?
The START time below is when you will usually begin to feel the effects of MDMA from the time when you first take it. DURATION is roughly the length of time you will experience the effects, after which the effects will start to wear off and you might start to feel the comedown effects.
- Onset: 20–70 minutes (depending on the form of the MDMA and how much food you have eaten)
- Duration: 3–5 hours
- Normal after-effects: up to 24 hours after
WARNING: pills in the UK and Europe contain a very high concentration of MDMA. This can lead to accidental overdoses. We recommend that you try half a pill first as it might have much more MDMA than you expect.
How often can I take MDMA?
The Three Month Rule
MDMA works by causing large amounts of serotonin to be released, along with other neurotransmitters like dopamine. After using MDMA, your serotonin levels are lowered, and it takes a long time for your brain to build more serotonin. If you take ecstasy on a regular basis, you may be releasing and depleting your serotonin before it has a chance to fully replenish itself. This means you will be operating on lower-than-normal serotonin levels most of the time, and this can lead to depression or worsen depressive symptoms. It is recommended that you leave at the very least 1–2 months between uses, ideally 3. Save MDMA for special occasions or events only, and use it very sparingly.
Tolerance and loss of effectiveness
Consuming MDMA too often decreases the potency of this drug on your body. This may lead to consuming larger amounts of MDMA. Again, save MDMA for special occasions or events only, and use it very sparingly.
Interactions of MDMA
Harm reduction for MDMA
There are certain precautions you should take before doing MDMA. The advice below helps you to be physically and mentally prepared before doing it. Furthermore, we want you to be safe, and just in case you have a bad experience or some of the unwanted side effects associated with MDMA, we have also provided information on how to take care of yourself when you are in full swing. Finally, there are those uncomfortable or undesirable effects after the high have worn out, we will provide you with some practical tips on how to have a better calm down and help you to reduce the harm done to your body and brain.
MDMA and ecstasy are often mixed with other chemicals, from caffeine to methamphetamine. We recommend that you always test your pills using a drug testing kit. Depending on the country you're in, there are places where you can send samples of your pills to be tested. Another recommended source is Pill Reports, where you can search for an ecstasy pill by its stamp and appearance. However, this is not a foolproof way to making sure that your pills are safe.
Accidental deaths have occurred due to ingesting compounds such as PMMA in a pill that was thought to be MDMA. We know some people cannot be bothered to test, but it is becoming increasingly important to do this in order to stay safe.
Check the interactions
Check our drug interaction chart above!
Get some supplements
There's some science out there that supports certain vitamins as being neuroprotective and helping to reduce the side-effects of taking MDMA. RollSafe has an extensive guide on this and you can purchase a kit at Roll Kit. 20% of Roll Kit's proceeds will be going to MAPS to aid psychedelic research.
Drink water (but not too much!)
Drink around 500 ml of water (2-3 glasses of water) per hour to avoid overheating and dehydration. Excessive water decreases salts in the body, so be careful not to drink too much.
Take a break from dancing
MDMA can change your body temperature regulation, while dancing increases your body temperature. These combined can lead to heat stroke, so take a break from dancing from time to time to cool down.
A common mistake which can lead to a bad experience (or even to hospitalisation) is taking another dose of MDMA because the first one did not have an effect. This leads to ‘coming up’ twice as hard, which is very dangerous. MDMA takes a long time to digest and absorb, so be patient, and wait for it to kick in. After a certain point during the comedown, taking more will not lead to positive effects. It only worsens the hangover. We recommend that you abstain from redosing at the end of the night.
Find some chewing gum
Use chewing gum to avoid teeth grinding and try magnesium tablets to reduce clenching
If you are feeling unwell after taking MDMA in a party, look for your friends. They will help you feeling better. Tell them how you feel and ask them for anything that might make you feel better such as water.
How to know if someone took an overdose:
- Serotonin syndrome: increased heart rate, shivering, twitching, over-responsive reflexes, extremely high temperatures
Do not doubt to call a paramedic if you feel any of these symptoms. You will not get into trouble.
The MDMA hangover, or comedown, varies from person to person and is dependent on the amount taken. The effects can also last from 1 up to 14 days after use.
The after-effects include:
- Fuzzy memory
- Decrease in attention or difficulty concentrating
- Some people feel happier in general and more focused.
- Mild to strong depression
Some people experience a ‘loss of magic’ after using MDMA after a couple of uses, meaning the drug doesn’t feel as good as the first few times. However, this does not happen to all people. If MDMA is taken on successive days or weeks, then the negative and comedown effects are worsened.
Sleep, eat, and hydrate
After the sesh, get plenty of sleep as exhaustion will leave you feeling like garbage. Make sure to eat plenty of nutritious food full of protein and to drink plenty of water throughout the day (2-3L total with 1-2 glasses per hour max).
Risks of MDMA
MDMA causes raise in body temperature and deregulates the body’s natural thermoregulation. This adds up to other factors such as dehydration and dancing in hot settings during hours. Keep hydrated and take regular breaks to avoid overheating.
Dehydration or hyperhydration
Many MDMA-related injuries are due to dehydration. Dehydration contributes to heatstrokes. Make sure to drink water during the night, but not too much as too much water can lead to health risks of its own.
There are studies that indicate brain toxicity can occur after MDMA use1. However, there is little or no knowledge of what the consequences are.
MDMA is not as addictive as other stimulants or depressants2. However, like any other drug, it is possible to become dependant if it becomes a habit. Please read our information on dependence in our ME page for more information.
The Law on MDMA
- UK: Illegal. Class A drug. Penalties include a maximum of seven years and/or unlimited fine for possession; life and/ or unlimited fine for production or trafficking.
- Germany: Illegal
- France: Illegal
- Netherlands: Illegal
- Spain: Illegal
- Russia: Illegal
- Czech Republic: Posession of less than 5 pills is not a serious criminal offense
- Portugal: Decriminalised up to 1g.
- Rest of Europe: Illegal in all countries
- USA: Illegal, Schedule I section D 1995.
- Canada: Schedule III
- Mexico: Illegal
ASIA AND AUSTRALIA
- Australia: Illegal
- New Zealand: Illegal
- Singapore: Illegal
- Hong Kong: Illegal
- Israel: Illegal
- South Africa: Illegal
To learn more about why MDMA is illegal, check out this video.