Known as E, XTC, Molly, love drug, and MDMA, ecstasy is popular for the positive feelings it provokes. Many people enjoy taking the drug because it makes them feel more energetic and allows them to continue dancing.
Unfortunately, this high is usually followed by a comedown with hangover-like effects. While time is the only cure for a post-ecstasy hangover, there are some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable.
Ecstasy Use And The Following Hangover
Ecstasy enjoys a favorable reputation at raves, clubs, and parties because of its perceived positive attributes.
Like any drug, things are not always so rosy after their influence wears off. A 2014 article explains that in most cases, ecstasy floods people with joy. The comedown, crash, or rebound works much like a hangover.
A comedown often induces the feelings a person was seeking to avoid while under the influence of a particular substance. Comedowns increase the risk of addiction because a person will continue chasing the positive feelings they had before the unfavorable consequences the next day. Also, ecstasy can easily build psychological dependency and tolerance in many individuals.
Coming Down From The High
A person who is coming down from a high is still under a drug’s influence. The feelings arising from this period are a return to sobriety as the drug’s influence diminishes. MDMA floods the brain with serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel good.
People who did not have a good experience with ecstasy may welcome the crash. A person who felt good while taking ecstasy could feel depressed and sluggish.
A teenager named Laura discussed her history with ecstasy on BBC. She was 20 years old at the time of the interview and explained that she started to take ecstasy every weekend. It became an ongoing cycle for her. Though she quit ecstasy, she now feels more susceptible to anxiety and other mental health issues because of her past heavy use.
In a report from Tonic, comedowns are such an object of dread in communities where ecstasy is prevalent that the effect has nicknames, such as “blue Mondays,” “Tuesday blues,” and “suicide Tuesdays.”
Common feelings during a comedown are:
These feelings are probably the result of a decrease in serotonin once the high begins to wane. A comedown can also be worsened depending on a variety of other factors, such as:
- The conditions in which ecstasy was taken.
- Levels of physical activity while under the influence.
- A person’s genes.
- Taking antidepressants.
- Eating certain items, such as cumin, grapefruit, and ginger.
- Consuming alcohol or other substances along with ecstasy.
Timeline Of An MDMA Comedown
Ecstasy is an illicit drug, so comedowns have not been thoroughly studied. MDMA users often self-report their symptoms and assist each other in online forums.
Writers and journalists who openly experiment with ecstasy have also written about their own experiences dealing with a comedown, but their exposés do not provide people with data that is backed by science.
One Quora user mentioned that the average comedown lasts between one and two days. This person also mentioned that feelings of sadness after two, three, or even four days could be normal. Tonic reports that people should watch out for fluttering in the chest or fever, which could be signs of serotonin syndrome.
Mayo Clinic warns that serotonin syndrome is deadly if not treated. This syndrome occurs when a person’s body becomes flooded with excess serotonin. Though this hormone is known for making a person feel good, it can also be dangerous when it is accumulated. It can cause various symptoms.
- Rigidity in the muscles
- Dilated pupils
- Lessened motor control
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
It is imperative to get help if symptoms of serotonin syndrome are present.
Treating An MDMA Comedown
Staying away from ecstasy is the only true way to prevent a comedown.
There are ways to treat an ecstasy crash, but many of these remedies are self-reported and may not work for everyone.
Furthermore, not all of these methods have been tested by the scientific community.
Some common cures for a comedown are:
- Rest. Like any hangover, it may be best to let this condition stay its natural course.
- Drink water. Hydration could help people ward off feelings of a comedown, but it is best to drink water every 30 minutes and resist the urge to drink too much water at once. Ecstasy causes some people to retain water, resulting in water toxicity that could have lethal effects.
- 5-HTP supplements. In a 2017 article on VICE, one consistent ecstasy user explained that supplements that have 5-HTP could help because this chemical is a predecessor of serotonin (5-HT). Many supplements also contain additional vitamins and extracts, and it is not known whether it’s the 5-HTP or other ingredients that help people feel better during their comedowns. The report mentioned improved mood after taking these supplements.
- Tryptophan. This ingredient is found in many regular foods, such as tuna, milk, eggs, tofu, and bananas. It is also an amino acid that is later converted into serotonin. VICE mentions that, theoretically, eating foods that contain tryptophan should help with a person’s crash. Ecstasy prevents the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, but results were favorable after some rest.
- Eat healthily. Getting over a comedown requires time, but eating healthy food can help your body recover.
- Exercise. Taking a walk can help someone recovering from a comedown. In theory, even 20 minutes of exercise could assist with sweating out toxins that remain after taking ecstasy.
The Lure Of Repeated Use
Some users enjoy ecstasy on a regular recreational basis, ignoring or discounting research about the drug’s possible long-term side effects. Ecstasy abuse can wreak havoc on someone’s day-to-day life as they abandon their everyday practical activities in search of the next party.
While the euphoria of ecstasy use can be alluring, the high is often followed by a crash. Users report experiencing feelings of persistent sadness, apathy, and malaise in the days following use. Out of a desire to get out of this funk, they may use ecstasy again. This cycle of experiencing the highest of highs, followed by the lowest of lows, can contribute to addictive behavior in users. This may be especially true of long-term and high-dose ecstasy users, whose brain chemistry may be negatively impacted by their ongoing abuse of the drug.
Those who are accustomed to abusing ecstasy may find it difficult to endure periods of “crashing” when they know a dose of MDMA would provide them with immediate relief from the discomfort.
Research On Ecstasy Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research on addiction to ecstasy is limited and varied in results. User accounts and analytic reports indicate that users can become dependent on the drug, perhaps physiologically if not physically. There are distinct indicators that ecstasy is addictive.
- Experiments indicate that animals will self-administer MDMA, an identifier of a drug’s abuse potential. However, in the study, the animals worked harder to self-administer cocaine. While ecstasy demonstrated an addictive potential, it was lower than that of stimulants like cocaine.
- Users have reported symptoms of addiction, including withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the drug.
- Research shows that users may develop a tolerance for ecstasy after prolonged use. The same doses of ecstasy may no longer produce the same effects, so users may need to increase their doses to experience those effects. This increases the likelihood of further abuse and overdose.
How Ecstasy Overdoses Happen
A VICE report from 2017 suggests that ecstasy deaths from taking too much of the drug should not be called overdoses because there are no acceptable doses for illicit drugs.
Experts warn that most people who take ecstasy for recreational use ingest between 75 mg and 100 mg of the drug. Fatalities have occurred even when people take these amounts.
Although taking too much ecstasy is dangerous, overdoses from MDMA are a bit more complicated because of certain contributing factors.
What to Do If You Witness an Overdose
According to the Public Health Insider, many states and municipalities now have Good Samaritan laws that protect someone who helps an individual who is overdosing. Doing nothing puts the person at risk of adverse health effects or even death.
When calling 911, provide the following information:
- What the person has taken, if you know
- If the person is violent or not
- The person’s sex, body size, and age
- Other medications the person has taken, if any
- Any known allergies
- Any known medical history
- Any treatments that were given
Once medical professionals arrive, they will assess the individual and decide on the best course of action.
Ecstasy has a high potential for misuse and is known to cause tolerance and dependency. Substance abuse treatment is highly encouraged for those who want to quit using ecstasy after becoming dependent or tolerant.