MDMA, also known by a host of other names such as ecstasy, XTC, and molly, can offer the user a mind-blowing experience of openness and whole body pleasure. Many who have taken the drug report feelings of full-blown euphoria, connection with others, and total bliss. Not quite hallucinogenic, MDMA has been termed as an “empathogenic” due to the immense socialising effects.
The blissful and euphoric effects of the substance are brought on by the enhanced release and inhibited reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This action increases the number of neurotransmitters within the synaptic cleft of neurons, causing the user to feel the effects of mood elevation.
Despite its euphoric effects upon ingestion, MDMA is just as well-known for its harsh comedown, where users come crashing back to the reality of normal ranges of brain chemistry. This comedown can often result in feelings of depression, sadness, and discontent. And these effects are not always immediate, which might catch new users off-guard.
MDMA is often used as a party drug at gatherings and raves during the weekend to boost social interaction and enjoyment. Because of this timing, users often use the term “blue Mondays” to refer to the discomfort of the comedown following MDMA use. However, this aftermath often trickles even further into the week, resulting in the coining of the term “suicide Tuesdays” to describe the negative feelings and effects.
This drawn-out comedown, or hangover, is a result of the chemically taxing mechanisms of MDMA. Due to the flood of serotonin and the excess production of this neurotransmitter, the brain becomes depleted. Because serotonin plays such an important role in mood, its slight absence in the following days results in the described experience.
Although MDMA has a harsh comedown, many users argue that the experience is worth it. Of course, all drugs come with danger. But MDMA offers people an opportunity to really drop their mask and connect with others, resulting in rare and memorable experiences. The drug is even being explored for its therapeutic potential within psychotherapy. If you intend to try MDMA soon, there are numerous steps you can take to minimise the effects of the impending hangover.
As mentioned, one of the main underlying causes of an MDMA hangover is the reduced supply of serotonin within the brain. During the days after taking the drug, there are a few supplements that can help to boost this dwindling supply.
5-HTP is a good option here. The substance is a chemical precursor to serotonin, meaning it is used by the body to create said neurotransmitter. 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and is sourced from the seed pods of a West African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia. Fortunately, you won’t need to reach for a field guide and go foraging for this species whilst in the daze of an MDMA hangover. 5-HTP can be easily bought in capsule form. The supplement is often used to enhance mood and sleep.
Tryptophan is known to reduce irritability (comedowns can really bring out a person's tendency to be a jerk), and may also ease anxiety and depression. The compound can be obtained from dietary sources and is found in abundance within chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yoghurt, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, spirulina, and almonds.
It may be a tough pill to swallow for those who praise MDMA for its state of euphoria, but the drug has a list of side effects. A publication within the journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology discusses the association between acute and sub-chronic use of MDMA and oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when the production of free radicals becomes too large for the body to successfully neutralise and deal with. The metabolism of MDMA results in increased reactive oxygen species and reduced levels of antioxidants. Reactive oxygen species are highly reactive molecules that can damage cell structures. Antioxidants can be employed to counteract their effect, essentially neutralising these molecules.
Because of this, it would be wise to ingest antioxidant-rich foods and supplements during an MDMA hangover, and possibly beforehand too. Antioxidants can be found within many foods, such as blueberries, pecans, blackberries, cilantro, kidney beans, elderberries, artichoke, and blueberries.
Slightly more exotic and powerful options include herbs and fungi such as gynostemma and chaga, which can be brewed into tea. In-depth and thorough research is strongly advised before consuming these sources to avoid any possible interactions.
MDMA raises body temperature. Advice is constantly given to rave-goers to monitor their hydration. MDMA carries risks of both dehydration and overhydration. If fluids aren’t replaced to cool the body, then heat stroke can occur. However, MDMA can also cause the body to retain water at the cellular level, meaning consuming too much water can cause an imbalance between water and sodium in the blood.
Hydration during a comedown should be monitored. Drinking fresh juices and teas are a great way to keep fluids coming in, and will also provide minerals and nutrients. Juices will also offer good amounts of antioxidants.
When it comes to tea, a soothing brew of ginger, honey, and lemon really hits the spot. It will also help to soothe the throat if snorting MDMA has caused any soreness.
Your body may be in a bit of shock after hours of dancing, socialising, and intense sensations brought on by the drug. It’s important to treat your biological machine well after such activities. Be sure to eat healthy foods and avoid any junk food that may backfire and leave you feeling even worse.
Meals consisting of healthy fats, whole foods, and lots of vegetables will really help your body to rest and provide it with the nutrients it needs. Chances are, you won’t have much of an appetite the next few days, but eating well will be worth it regardless. It will keep your energy levels stable and prevent you from crashing too hard.
Sleep is crucially important to mood, well-being, and cognitive function. Sleep deprivation combined with an MDMA comedown will make the symptoms even worse. Sleeping will give your body the rest it needs, and will help with your mental state in the days after partying.
Keeping your brain occupied during an MDMA hangover will really help to stop you from dwelling on feelings of depression, anxiety, and unease. Going for a hike with friends is an excellent choice, especially along trails. The trail will keep your mind active, and the fresh air and sites are excellent for mental health.
Reading an interesting and motivating book is another great way to ride the waves of a hangover, and may offer you some inspiration. Watching a meaningful film may also help you to process some emotions and feel better.
Several herbs can be ingested to help to boost a low mood. St. John’s wort is well-known for its mood-boosting properties and may help to lift your mental state. The herb has shown to be effective in cases of depression, although long-term use appears to be more effective than taking it as a one-off. Be very cautious and do your research, as this herb can interact with a lot of drugs.
Yerba mate is a great option too, and can easily be made into a refreshing tea. It offers a motivating energy boost due to its caffeine content, but it doesn't come along with the unpleasant crashes associated with coffee. The tea stimulates dopamine production and is reported to boost memory and focus.
The tips offered so far are all about remedying the hangover once it has set in. However, there are some measures that can be taken before you use MDMA to minimise the severity of the inevitable comedown.
Due to the illegal nature of MDMA, it is hard and almost impossible to locate a supply that is completely pure. There are many con artists and unreliable suppliers out there, meaning every time you buy MDMA, you really have no idea what else is inside that product. Take time to find a reliable and trustworthy person to obtain MDMA from. Who knows what your product could be cut with, and how much worse that could leave you feeling afterwards.
To be completely safe, purchase a test kit and screen your product before consuming it.
As this article has made apparent, MDMA is taxing on the body and brain. Abusing this substance really won’t end well. Apply strict moderation. When taking it, only take as much as you need to reach the state you want. And don’t take it all the time—MDMA really isn’t something to be taken lightly. Only take it on rare occasions when you think it could really benefit you (and your buddies).
An MDMA hangover is bad enough, so don’t bring about the effects of an alcohol hangover too. Furthermore, mixing ecstasy and booze is downright dangerous. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and will really throw off your fluid levels. Mixing the two is dangerous for the kidneys and the heart. Drinking will also act to lower serotonin levels.