Is MDMA really a ‘purer’ form of ecstasy? And what does it feel like? The Mix looks at the effects and risks of taking MDMA powder.

What is MDMA?

MDMA is a chemical that, generally, makes people dance for hours and love the entire human race. It became the base ingredient in ecstasy pills, and as a result was massive during the 90s rave culture – but now MDMA is more popular than actual ecstasy. It’s usually referred to as ‘molly’.

What’s the difference between MDMA and ecstasy?

For quite a while, MDMA and ecstasy were the same thing. MDMA was just the chemical name – short for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine – and ecstasy was the street name and often sold in pill form.

Unfortunately, ecstasy pills started getting cut with other nasties to make them cheaper, while MDMA was associated with a purer form of the drug that is mostly sold as a powder. Taking MDMA doesn’t necessarily mean it IS purer though – it might still be cut with other chemicals.

How do you take MDMA?

The powder is often snorted or wrapped in cigarette paper and ‘bombed’ (swallowed).

Why do people take MDMA?

  • A feeling that everything in the world is amazing and right.
  • Huge amounts of empathy towards other humans – you LOVE humans, we are all so beautiful.
  • Emotional openness so you can talk and SHARE with all the beautiful humans.
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, colours and touch.
  • Buckets of energy, meaning you can dance like for hours without getting knackered.
  • Your natural shyness disappears so you feel less embarrassed by all the dancing, sharing and hugging.

What are the bad side effects of taking MDMA?

  • You will most definitely annoy the HELL out of anyone around you who isn’t also on MDMA.
  • As you come up, you may get a huge rush of nervousness and uncertainty that can feel very overwhelming.
  • Prepare to gurn! MDMA tightens your jaw muscles, and you may get some pretty unattractive mouth ulcers afterwards.
  • You can sweat buckets, feel really sick and find your heart beats too fast.
  • The surge of emotions can be too much to deal with, triggering horrible memories or unearthing new feelings about your life that are distressing.
  • The comedown of MDMA is pretty hardcore, and can leave you feeling miserable for days.

How long does it take to come up?

It usually takes about 20 minutes to an hour, or even two hours, to come up, depending on how much food is in your belly. Once you start feeling it, you usually launch into the peak of the effects almost immediately. This can be pretty intense and scary, but the feeling doesn’t usually last longer than a few minutes.

How long do the effects of MDMA last?

Usually the ‘main event’ effects last about three to four hours. Then it can take a further two to six hours to feel normalish again and be able to sleep. The comedown can take several days.

What’s the comedown like?

Immediately: As the peak of the high wanes, some people experience a distressing crash where they never want the euphoria to end and get angry and scared about its impending finish line.
The next few days: Feeling that happy and then returning to… well… ordinary levels of happiness can sting. Lots of users have to schedule in two days for the full MDMA experience, to factor in recovery. You’re unlikely to feel like a bright spring chicken if you’ve taken MDMA. The week following you may feel run-down, depressed, and catch whatever cold or flu is doing the rounds.

Is MDMA addictive?

It can be psychologically addictive, meaning that if you use it regularly you can end up wanting to take it more and more. Your body can also build up a tolerance to MDMA if you’ve taken it recently, so you get a much milder experience from the same dosage.

Can you drink alcohol on MDMA?

It’s really not a good idea – drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated and that’s the last thing you need when you’re taking a drug that raises your temperature.

Can you take MDMA if you’re on antidepressants?

It depends on what kind of antidepressants you take. SSRI antidepressants appear to have no dangerous interaction with MDMA, but if your antidepressants contain MOAIs then the combination with MDMA can be fatal.

We’d recommend putting a blanket ban on taking both MDMA and antidepressants, just in case.

Is MDMA dangerous?

It can be, and people have died taking it. You don’t tend to just drop dead randomly — though that can happen. MDMA interferes with your body’s natural thermostat, making you prone to dangerously overheating or dehydrating. MDMA also stops your peeing abilities, which means that you can die from drinking too much water and overhydrating.

If you have any health conditions, such as blood pressure problems, a heart condition, epilepsy or asthma, then MDMA could be fatal. It’s common for people who die from MDMA to have other drugs in their body.

Mixing drugs is extremely risky and MDMA mixes particularly badly with alcohol and antidepressants. As with all illegal drugs, you don’t really have a clue what you’re taking. Drug dealers regularly cut it with all sorts of crap. There’s no way of knowing that what you’re taking is legit, or the impact it’s going to have on your body.

Is MDMA bad for your mental health?

There’s a bit of an ongoing debate a-raging about this one. The answer for now is: possibly. MDMA has been confirmed as ‘neurotoxic’, meaning it poisons the nerve tissues of the brain. However, there’s not enough research to show what the impact of this exactly is.

There’s evidence suggesting that regular MDMA usage can cause memory problems, depression and anxiety – but it’s not conclusive.

How can I reduce the risks of taking MDMA?

If you’re planning to take MDMA, know how to minimise the risks:

  • A dealer may claim it’s pure MDMA, but don’t take their word for it. The only way of knowing what’s in it is by testing it. You can even now find testing facilities in clubs and at festivals.
  • The safest way to take it is to dab it on your gums and see how you go, rather than snorting it or bombing.
  • Take regular breaks from dancing and sit down to stop yourself getting overheated. Sipping from non-alcoholic drinks like water, fruit juice, or a sports drink will help keep you hydrated. However, don’t panic about overheating so much that you down lots of water. This can kill you!
  • Take regular sips of liquid throughout the night, rather than chugging pints of water. No more than a pint an hour.
  • Try not to double dose, especially if you’re waiting to come up. Give it time for the drug to kick in before you chow down more.
  • Be around trustworthy friends who can look after you if anything goes awry. Make sure they know what you’ve taken, and when you’ve taken it.
  • Don’t drive.
  • Don’t mix it with any other stimulants, even caffeine.

What if I’m caught with MDMA?

It’s a Class A drug, so the maximum sentence is seven years for possession and/or a fine, and a life sentence and/or an unlimited fine for supplying. For more information about what to do if you’re caught with drugs, see our article here.

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015