7 Ways to Reduce the MDMA Hangover

MDMA has been a massively popular party drug for 30 years, since first escaping into the wild in the dance club scenes in Dallas and Austin in the mid-1980s (and promptly being criminalized by the DEA).

The drug is very appealing for people who want to really get into the music and party all night long. An amphetamine-type stimulant, MDMA produces energy, enthusiasm and glowing, lovey-dovey feelings, and it makes those beats feel just right. It can make for a great night out. But leaving aside the possibility of overdose and death, which is rare, but can happen—especially because people don't always know what they're taking—MDMA users still face the dire prospect of the morning after.

The comedown can be brutal. After a hard night of rolling, the day after Ecstasy is sometimes lethargic, depleted and even depressed. The phenomenon is very common for first-time and regular users.

The biochemical reason is rooted in what happens when you take MDMA; it releases large amounts of feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine—that provide users with sensations of empathy, energy and well-being, but in so doing, also depletes the supply of those neurotransmitters in the user's system. With low levels of these substances in their bodies, people feel washed out, tired and mopey. 

But it's not just the biochemistry of MDMA. People who are using Molly tend to stay up all night, engage in vigorous, even frantic activities—i.e. dancing for hours to 130-160 beats per minute—and may be using other drugs and/or alcohol as well. It's no wonder people on MDMA don't feel so hot the next day.

There is no instant cure, but there are steps users can take to reduce the pain and get over the hangover. Be advised that it helps to do these things before as well as after taking MDMA.

1. Know what you are taking. MDMA is illegal, thus unregulated. There are many pills being sold as MDMA that don't contain MDMA or contain other drugs as well as MDMA. The first step toward not feeling like crap the morning after is not ingesting crap the night before. Check with pill-testing websites such as Ecstasy Data or Pill Reports for warnings about adulterated or otherwise bad pills. Better yet, test the stuff yourself with kits like those offered by DanceSafe.

2. Replenish the body's supply of neurotransmitters. You had your fun, and now it's time to pay the piper. You've splurged on a gusher of neurotransmitters and now you have to replenish. To re-up your serotonin supply, the best thing is to take tryptophan or 5-HTP, both of which are chemical precursors to serotonin. To re-up your dopamine supply, take Velvet Bean (mucuna pruriens), which contains the dopamine precursor levodopa.

3. Fight oxidative stress. MDMA can cause oxidative stress. While oxidation is a normal metabolic process in the body as it uses energy, metabolizes proteins and nutritive chemicals, and breaks larger molecules into smaller ones using enyzmes, oxidation can go into overdrive when using MDMA. That means potentially neurotoxic free radicals (or "oxidative radicals") are produced at a faster rate than the body can generate or replenish antioxidant molecules. People using MDMA should be ingesting antioxidants, both before and after rolling. Antioxidants are common in dark colored fruits and vegetables—think berries, cherries, some apples, red and black beans, russet potatoes—but someone who is doing or recovering from MDMA probably doesn't have the appetite for downing a lot of food. Another means of ingesting antioxidants is by taking vitamins, particularly Vitamins A, C, and E. The vitamins can be taken with other supplements; the experiental drug website Erowid has a couple of examples (scroll to bottom of page).

4. Drink plenty of liquids, especially fresh juices, but not alcohol. MDMA's dehydrating effects are well-known. Users should compensate by staying well hydrated while under the influence and the following days. Water is fine, but fresh juices are going to have those nutrients and antioxidants the body needs. Alcohol won't. And it's probably wise not to drink alcohol while on MDMA. Users are already looking at one hangover; why double down?

5. Eat well. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is just plain good for you. And it will make you better able to cope with whatever morning-after effects you're dealing with. You may not have much of an appetite the next day, but being well-nourished before you start will ease the suffering later.

6. Sleep. If you've been up all night, this seems obvious. And it's going to give your body a chance to reenergize.

7. Do less MDMA, less often. As the existence of the hangover suggests, MDMA is hard on you. Take only as much as you need to reach your desired state, and try to define your desired state as something less than bouncing off the wall. If you're taking two pills, try taking just one. And the longer the interval between doses, the more time you have to recover. If you're taking MDMA on Friday night, don't do it on Saturday night. If you’re taking it once a week, try to cut back to once a month. Savor the experience; don't run it (and yourself) into the ground.


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