What Does MDMA Feel Like?

Eden Loi · June 9th, 2017

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as molly, ecstasy, E, or pills—is the unsung psychedelic. It is perhaps the most popularly used psychedelic, though even many regular users would not consider it so. MDMA is commonly known as a party drug, used at concerts, raves, festivals, and other high-energy gatherings with music and crowds. Many who take MDMA do so for fun, to socialize and enjoy music, instead of embarking on the “trips” usually associated with other psychedelics like LSDPsilocybin, or ayahuasca.

However, MDMA is, in fact, a psychedelic, and has the potential to provide profound insights, heal trauma, and relieve anxiety and depression. Promising studies suggest that MDMA may be a key to helping veterans struggling with treatment-resistant PTSD.


MDMA is a chemically synthesized substance. Unlike psilocybin mushrooms, one cannot enter a wilderness area to pluck MDMA from the lap of nature. It is a product of laboratories, many times illegal ones. Because of the unreliable sourcing of the substance, MDMA has earned a somewhat ugly reputation. There are plenty of stories of MDMA-related deaths and toxic lacing. Additionally, even when pure, MDMA poses a higher risk of toxicity than LSD, another unregulated, lab-synthesized psychedelic.

If you are planning to take MDMA, it is important to be aware of the risks involved, and take the proper steps to avoid them. Legitimate manufacturers sell MDMA-testing kits, which can help you find adulterants in your pills. The results cannot completely assure your safety, but you will at least be able to identify potentially fatal poisons like PMA/PMMA.


The last thing you want to do while peaking on MDMA? Figure out what to do while peaking on MDMA.

Plan ahead: a public or private party, camping, a date night with your partner, a rave or music festival, or just a night at home.  Surround yourself with friends, or a loved one, in an environment with something to do. MDMA is a social substance, and conversations and connections while on it will feel incredibly meaningful. It often gives users a strong compulsion to do something, to participate. Having nothing to do and nobody to speak to can leave you feeling very uncomfortable and restless.

Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated – especially if you’re dancing. MDMA interferes with your body’s ability to regulate water, so you have to pay a little more attention than usual to your water and electrolyte intake.

Here's what you should expect when microdosing

If you’re interested in leveraging altered states for healing and purpose, then you’re probably interested in microdosing. And more importantly, you probably want to learn how to do it in a safe, effective, and valuable way.

That’s why we put together this detailed, step-by-step course.

In it you’ll learn everything you need to know about what to expect from microdosing different substances, including how to prepare and administer your substance of choice, how you’re likely to feel during the experience, and what you’re likely to feel like afterwards.


Depending on where you are, MDMA can be sold as tablets, capsules, or as powder/crystals . Regardless of how it comes, you will always have the option of dose-management. That is, you can always crush a pill or a capsule, empty the contents, and divide into halves, thirds, quarters, etc. There’s no rule against taking less.

There are three different ways people usually take MDMA. You can directly ingest the substance orally, snort it, or dissolve it into water. Most commonly, the MDMA is swallowed directly (in pill or powder form.) This could be in the form of a pressed pill  (called Ecstasy), or loose MDMA crystals in a capsule or bag (called Molly.)

Snorting MDMA results in a more rapid onset of action because the nasal membrane is porous and allows the drug to be absorbed directly into the blood vessels lining the nose. The MDMA must be crushed into a fine powder in order to snort. This makes for a quicker high, but it also can be shorter-acting, causing increased instances of wanting to re-dose. Snorting MDMA does burn, and it can irritate and damage the nasal lining, giving you nosebleeds and potential complications if done frequently.

Dissolving MDMA in a drink is common, particularly when discreetly trying to bring in MDMA to public events. One drawback of this method is the taste — MDMA is very bitter, and drinking it dissolved into a liquid is not exactly delectable.

The chosen route of administration ultimately comes down to the individual’s personal preference, weighing the risks and benefits with each.


The standard recreational dose of MDMA is between 80 and 150mg. A good guide to decrease the chance of overdosing is to calculate 1.5-1.7 mg/kg of bodyweight, and not exceed 150mg. This can be challenging when you do not know the dose of an ecstasy pill. To help avoid an overdose (which can be deadly), always start slow. Some ecstasy pills contain much more MDMA than the therapeutic dose range, increasing the risk of a possible overdose or MDMA-related death.


Just as it is with other psychedelics, you may feel some discomfort between ingesting MDMA and the time it takes to reach full effect. During MDMA come-up you might experience clamminess, a knot in your gut, anxiety, and uneasiness. Usually within twenty to sixty minutes, you will begin to feel the onset, which occurs gradually. The feeling almost seems like someone has turned up the dial on all of your sensory inputs. It does not cause hallucinations, but increases your senses. Colors grow vibrant, sounds sharpen, touch is more sensitive, and music, if it’s playing, can become mesmerizing. Occasionally, you may feel a queasiness in your stomach while coming up that usually dissipates quickly.

An important note here: Sometimes people mistakenly think they’ve been sold a dud, due to a longer onset time than they expect. As a result, they carelessly take more MDMA to compensate for it. Not only is this physically dangerous, but it can result in an emotionally and psychologically overwhelming experience. Don’t rush to feel the effects. First timers aren’t sure what feelings to look out for and are often slower to notice. It’s safest to wait for at least an hour before considering any additional dosing. If you took a full dose to begin with, you might not want to add any more at all, and instead try again another time and/or from another source.


The peak usually comes an hour or two after ingestion, though it certainly differs between users. Aside from the enhanced perception of light, colors, and tactile sensitivity, you will also feel a connection with those around you. It is common to experience a sense of well-being and ease regarding your overall life. The tiny frustrations and resentment that infect your inner dialogue during “normal” life fade away. If you have never used MDMA before, you can imagine how the combination of inter-connectedness and the loss of mental baggage can lead to interactions that feel incredibly meaningful. MDMA is effective at relieving social anxiety, which is another reason why events like raves are so popular—the sort of openness and kindness you want to project while on MDMA is powerful, and can’t be matched or reciprocated in “normal” life.

People using MDMA also experience energy boosts. Many times, this is because ecstasy pills contain caffeine or other stimulants. Even when pure, MDMA often leads to hyperactivity, which is why people will clench their jaws, grind their teeth, and grasp and toy with things between their hands (this also occurs because of an increase in tactile sensitivity, which makes all sorts of physical feedback feel great). Try to be aware of these tendencies, though, as they can result in some soreness and discomfort the following day.

Depending on the person, and dose taken, the MDMA “high” usually lasts around three to five hours before you begin to come down.


The MDMA comedown varies, depending on a few factors: the quality of the MDMA; the composition of the pills; the dosage; and whether or not you mixed your dose with other substances. Usually, coming down is unpleasant only when mixing substances, especially alcohol, or when the MDMA is cut with other substances.

However, with clean, well-sourced, and pure MDMA, the comedown should happen gradually, almost lightly. There is a slow dissolution of the openness and excitement, and you feel dropped back gently to where you began. In the best case, you may notice the effects lingering for a while.

While MDMA carries potential to heal old traumas and wounds, treating it as an escape substance to numb pain may backfire. The comedown, however, also offers an excellent opportunity to examine and reaffirm relationships, to discuss and explore feelings that may have come up during the trip, and to reflect on yourself and your joy. One of the beautiful lessons that MDMA makes crystal clear is the value of sharing and having company. MDMA has a way of showing you that focusing only on yourself only breeds obsession and anxiety while sharing in the happiness and well-being of others does the opposite.


The term “Tuesday Blues” got its name from the tendency of people to take MDMA on a Friday or Saturday night, and to have all lingering effects of the MDMA high disappear by Tuesday. The blues result from the way that MDMA works on your brain, i.e. by increasing the activity levels of three different neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Put simply, MDMA opens the hatch where the feel-good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, release. Your brain gets flooded with these chemicals and takes immense pleasure from the experience. These are what cause feelings of empathy, emotional closeness, sexual arousal, and mood-elevation while using MDMA. The downside: this process also depletes the brain’s supply of these chemicals, and it can take some time for the brain to replenish what was released, creating feelings of moodiness, tiredness, and even depression.

In most cases, the more MDMA you ingest, the worse the comedown . Individuals with pre-existing depression may have a harder time post-MDMA than others, which makes moderation more important than ever. With MDMA, less is more. Sleeping and eating well are also important to help restore the brain and decrease the negative lingering effects.

Alternatively, a responsible dose and comfortable post-trip environment will result in the opposite of the Tuesday Blues. Instead of a grumpy brain, you’ll feel a buzz from the wonderful MDMA experience you had. You’ll return to your life with a bit of lightness and warmth from your trip. Even though people often underestimate it as a party drug, it’s easy to see the psychedelic in MDMA:  it removes the psychological and emotional barriers that so often enclose all of us. It’s important to remember that there is no evidence that moderate use of MDMA can cause brain damage.

When properly used, it’s no surprise at all why people call MDMA “Ecstasy.”

Here's what you should expect when microdosing

If you’re interested in leveraging altered states for healing and purpose, then you’re probably interested in microdosing. And more importantly, you probably want to learn how to do it in a safe, effective, and valuable way.

That’s why we put together this detailed, step-by-step course.

In it you’ll learn everything you need to know about what to expect from microdosing different substances, including how to prepare and administer your substance of choice, how you’re likely to feel during the experience, and what you’re likely to feel like afterwards.


MDMA can produce beautiful psychedelic experiences. But it can also have a nasty bite.

Adverse reactions or side effects, mixing MDMA with other drugs, and frequent, high-dose use can be deadly. In most circumstances, it is not an actual overdose of MDMA that causes deaths, but certain physiological factors that are induced from taking the drug itself, even if the dose is in a therapeutic range. Potentially fatal side-effects of MDMA are dehydration, heat-stroke, hyponatremia (from drinking too much water), pre-existing medical problems, or reactions from other substances mixed with the MDMA. It’s important to keep in mind that MDMA slightly increases your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; on its own this will not harm you, but mixed with a hot environment, or pre-existing medical issues, it can be dangerous.

Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid these risks. Take MDMA in a safe environment, surrounded by responsible friends, or at least one other person. Test your substance prior and only take a dose in the recommended range. Don’t mix it with other drugs. Only take it once every few weeks, at the most. Most important, stay hydrated, but don’t overdo it with water, and ideally drink a beverage including electrolytes. If you have pre-existing medical issues, it might be smart to abstain, or take smaller doses.

If we want to change the face of psychedelics, we need to promote responsible drug use. Spread the joys of MDMA without giving the papers another shock headline!

Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarDaniel S Lennox says

    Hi all, I just want to askl if someone ever tried using shrooms or truffles for medical purposes? I was reading some articles about this magic truffles and shrooms before engaging my self for the first time. Like this one from: .They say that it has a very potent effect on the brain and hallucination. Unlike marijuana does it have any medical use? In one article that I’ve read magic truffles or shrooms are use on reducing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. It can also help people to quit smoking and alcohol addiction. Some studies also suggest the property of magic shrooms/truffles can be useful for cancer patients. I would really want to hear other insights regarding this new possible alternative meds. Thanks

  2. AvatarBethany Brandon says

    Daniel: There have been studies done using psilocybin (magic mushrooms) to treat anxiety in terminal cancer patients. It’s reported to ease depression and death anxiety and that the effects last for weeks and even months. Search online and you’ll find the reports going back for several years. Additional studies on things like addictions and OCD are stymied by legalities, since psilocybin was made a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance (like heroin) years and years ago, making it difficult if not impossible for researchers to get support. Let’s hope minds are changing, and the potentialities of plant medicines can be explored and exploited in the future!

  3. AvatarKenn Quayle says

    Common routes of administration involving the use of dissolved MDMA also include injection, and to a lesser extent, shafting.
    In Sydney, Australia, weekend warriors have developed a vocabulary that includes “Eccy Tuesday” to describe how one may still be feeling, a couple of days after a party weekend.
    MAPS is one organization currently doing research into the use of MDMA in therapy, including treating PTSD.

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