I'm wide awake
It's time to make it on my own
Time to find my way back home
The Dream is over.
-"Wide Awake" by Milk
Well, you did it. Swallowed a strange
little pill...and something about the world changed. Maybe you danced
wildly, your soul filled with an incredible joy and power. Maybe you
just hung out and talked for hours with your friends. But...the high
is fading, and you're starting to feel tired. What now?
Find a comfortable spot.
If you feel quite tired and aren't already there, go home. If you
still feel reasonably energetic, perhaps just seek out a quiet environment
to lay back and chat or watch the world go by. What people feel like
doing varies, but you're probably going to feel better in a peaceful
environment. Like the MDMA experience itself, the comedown is usually
best shared with friends who are in the same condition if you aren't
going to bed yet. When it's convenient, you might want to take a capsule
The bad news is that you probably
won't sleep very well tonight (or day, depending on how late you were
out) because of residual stimulant effects from the MDMA. A little
pot or other sedative
may help you relax. The next day, expect to be tired, unmotivated,
and with little or no appetite. (The severity of the hangover varies
a bit, but is very dependent on frequency of use...heavy users will
usually have much worse hangovers.) If you feel irritable, take another
5-HTP capsule. In spite
of what your stomach may have to say, try to eat a little. Fruit
and other light foods can help you recover and are usually inoffensive.
Towards evening your appetite should be improving and you may feel
a full meal. That night, sleep should come easily and be more-or-less
back to normal.
The second day after use (days
measured by sleep/wake cycles, not necessarily calendar) you should
feel better, but may still be feeling a little tired.
A less typical (but still
somewhat common) pattern of hangover is the 'Tuesday blues' phenomenon,
where you feel quite good for a day or two after MDMA use, but then
become irritable or depressed about three days afterwards. Regardless
of which pattern you experience, a little 5-HTP can
often treat any anxiety/depression that appears.
Putting your world back together.
Well, you may have had quite
a wild time. You probably felt better and more 'together' than you have
in a long time. You may have said and did things that made sense at
the time (being honest about your thoughts and feelings) that you aren't
so sure was wise after all when you sobered up. What to think of it
Feel free to ignore everyone
and everything for a day or two. Let yourself get over any fatigue/residual
side effects in peace. If the experience brought up issues for you,
it's probably better to think about them is when you feel more like
yourself. Don't make decisions in haste. Maybe something you thought
of doing while high is a good idea, maybe it isn't.
First time users often
say that MDMA was a lot of fun, as expected...but it also left them
in some small way. They viewed the world with a little more optimism.
They viewed themselves and their lives with more compassion. They
more able to be open and trusting of others. There is, of course, a
good neurological reason for this: Part of MDMA's effect is to enhance
learning mechanisms in your brain (or, as the animal behavioralists
might put it, "MDMA enhances the acquisition of conditioned responses.")
Almost every experience we have in life becomes part of us, recorded
variables about who and what we are and what the world around us is.
A traumatic experience can profoundly damage that sense of self and
perspective on the world. By the same token, an ecstatic experience
(to use the religious sense of the word) can elevate and expand it.
For someone who doubts whether they deserve to be loved, what is it
worth to know with every fiber of your being that you are
loved? For someone who has suffered horribly, what is it worth
to find a moment of perfect peace and grace?
MDMA can be a religious
experience without the religion. It doesn't tell people what to think
or believe or do: It shows them a glimpse of what the human experience
is capable of being like. MDMA can bring out the best in the human soul.
That feeling of rightness
and peace will fade over the coming days and weeks, but that doesn't
mean it has to go away completely. An ecstatic experience will always
be a part of you in some small way, regardless of how it was produced.
It was so perfect...and now it's gone. Was it ever
truly real ?
Sometimes people feel shortchanged
by the temporary nature of the MDMA state. Was what they felt just an
illusion? A neurochemical con game?
My answer is that drugs
reveal aspects of what our minds are capable of. It's temporary. It
may not be a state of mind that you'll ever achieve while completely
sober. But it is absolutely something that was generated from your own
mind. Drugs essentially turn the volume up or down on different parts
of the brain; the tune is still of our own making.
Don't expect MDMA to
solve your problems. No drug can do that. What it can do, however,
you new insights which may allow you to work out your
problems yourself. In the end, the gift of MDMA is more one of questions
MDMA sometimes produces
a form of flashback. A 'flashback' is a triggered memory, and can be
the result of any strong experience. In the case of drugs, flashbacks
are the result of something reminding you of the drug experience, causing
your mind to bring up a memory of the experience. Where things get
interesting is that your brain doesn't simply store memories as data;
you 'remember' mental states and ways of processing information as
As a result, if you have an intense MDMA experience at
a rave, you might at some later time start to feel euphoric when you
hear the same
sort of music again. These events are infrequent, and the probability
of experiencing such a 'mental state' memory declines with time as
the memory of the drug experience fades. The probability of experiencing
such a 'flashback' seems to be linked to the frequency of use and/or
the intensity of an experience (since both strengthen the memory of
How long should I wait until I use again?
Human research suggests that
it takes about a month for your brain to fully return to the state
in before taking MDMA. Give it a month between uses and you should keep
feeling fine (for some people, even once a month is too often in the
long run.) If you push it, however, (such as weekly use) the severity
and length of the 'hangover' period can grow much worse as the regular
disruptions of your brain's serotonin system add up. That's
not to say weekly use will cause medical harm, but you may find yourself
feeling like crap much of the time. The reason is that, besides temporarily
depleting serotonin reserves, your brain 'adjusts the volume' on the
serotonin system in response to the massive serotonin release caused
by MDMA. With very heavy use (several times a week) users can become
quite dysfunctional (panic attacks, major memory/concentration problems,
in some cases amphetamine psychosis has been reported.)
Responsible drug use means
moderation. MDMA can be a very seductive drug, making it hard
for some people to resist the urge to run out and repeat the experience
as soon and as often as possible, but if you go overboard, regardless
of the drug used, you will
pay a price for it. The poet Blake said that the path of excess leads
to the palace of wisdom. That's true, but when you drag your tired,
hung-over ass up to the gates of that palace you realize that wisdom
was moderation in the first place. Been there, done that. If you overindulge,
you will recover (it's a mistake to assume that these somewhat long-term
disruptions are signs of brain damage) but it's no fun in the meanwhile.
Some people just have to learn this lesson for themselves, but take
it from the many thousands of users who have taken this road before:
It isn't worth it. Once a month is fine. You might get away with twice
a month for a while. But very few people seem to be able to get away
use for long. Be sensitive to your own mental state, and if you start
to feel a little emotionally unstable or more tired/forgetful than
a break for several months. Your brain will thank you.
'Loss of Magic.'
Part of the charm of the
MDMA effect is simply novelty. The most special experiences will usually
be the earlier ones; with heavy use, the drug can become downright
boring. The consensus among users seems to be that after perhaps 30-40
uses, much of the 'magic' of MDMA is gone. For many, this effect can
be mostly reversed by a prolonged period of abstinence.
Does MDMA show up on drug tests? For how long?
MDMA can be tested for.
It can also trigger tests for amphetamine or methamphetamine
of its structural similarity.) In urine/blood the detection period
has been reported to be about 2-5 days. Drinking
acidic beverages such as cranberry or citrus juices may speed the rate
as will exercise and drinking plenty of water. Hair tests may be able
to detect MDMA use several months after the fact. How sensitive these
hair tests are isn't clear...their main purpose is detecting chronic
A 'one dose a month' user may very well not be detectible.
I took ecstasy this weekend and have a drug test scheduled
for Monday. What can I do?
Convert to Buddhism and
hope to be reincarnated as a smarter life form. OK, exercise, drink
plenty of water, drink cranberry juice (keeping your urine acidic can
increase the elimination rate of most drugs (but not marijuana.)) When
giving the urine sample, make sure it isn't your first piss of
concentrated), and if convenient collect the middle part of the urination
(not the start of it.)
There are a few 'tricks
of the trade' for beating urine drug tests. The simplest
is just to drink a lot of water, but this can arouse suspicion by making
your urine very light in color. Taking some vitamin B12 will give your
pee a nice yellow color for the tester's entertainment (and
comfort). As a backup, sometimes a test will be done to detect levels
of creatinine in your urine; if the creatinine level is quite low,
then they know that the urine is very dilute. The solution to this
Drop by a health food store and pick up a creatine supplement
(used by bodybuilders) to increase your levels of creatinine (a metabolite
of creatine.) By drinking a lot of water and taking creatine and some
B12, your urine will be considerably more diluted (reducing
concentration of drugs in it) but will still look reasonably normal
and test normally for creatine. If you really want to go full-out,
of a stiff dose of caffeine will have you pissing like racehorse. At
worst, a 'too dilute' result from the lab should give you a second
chance to pass the test with a bit more time to 'get clean.'
As far as the many 'detoxification'
products sold as ways to beat drug tests, my opinion is "don't
waste your money." At best, they may contain B12, creatine, and
a stimulant like caffeine to increase the rate of urine production.
There is no
magic bullet, no way to really 'cleanse your system'.
A more aggressive tactic is to substitute urine from somebody who doesn't
use drugs, but this can be difficult to pull off (it's common to check
for temperature to make sure the sample came out of a person recently.)
Fortunately for users of most drugs it usually only takes a few days
to drop below the
threshold. (Marijuana can be detected weeks after quitting in very
Urine sample 'doping' products
can indeed work, usually by using oxidizers like bleach to destroy
the evidence in your urine or screw with the drug test reaction itself.
Beware, though, that these methods can be very easily detected, depending
on how thorough the tester is. You might get away with it if it's just
some yahoo with a stick test, but if it's a real testing lab (and it
usually is), forget it.
Well folks, that's about
all I have to say. MDMA (like most illegal drugs) can be extremely
safe if you know what you're doing. (Heck, it's safer to be an
MDMA user than a smoker or drinker even if you don't know what you're
doing, but I don't consider even one case of 'death by ignorance' acceptable.)
Good luck and stay safe.
Supplemental material: A Gift
to be Alive: MDMA in Therapy.