What is MDMA? The world of psychoactive substances

Written by: Konstantin Neumann



Time to read 7 min

Whether in clubs, at festivals or private house parties, MDMA has been one of the most popular recreational drugs since the 1980s and has become an integral part of the world of psychoactive substances. The euphoric effect has cast a spell over many a person and never let go. MDMA is considered one of the safest drugs there is - but is that really true? What is fact and what is wishful thinking? What is MDMA really, what does pure MDMA look like and where does the hype come from? Today we're taking you on a journey through the world of love-struck ravers to find out.

The abbreviation MDMA actually stands for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. The drug is often simply referred to as "crystals", "Molly", "Emma", "ecstasy" or "E", but this can lead to confusion. While "Molly" and "Emma" usually still refer to the pure active ingredient MDMA, "Ecstasy" and "E" describe small pills diluted with other drugs, often called "parts" in the scene. Ecstasy can therefore contain other substances such as speed and the actual proportion of MDMA is often very low - or the opposite, overdosed. So if you are interested in the effects of MDMA, you should stick to pure MDMA instead of playing the lottery with "parts".

MDMA: intake and effects

So now we've roughly clarified what MDMA is. But what is MDMA actually known for? It's all about the effect, of course. But what is the typical MDMA effect? In the 1980s, MDMA was also known as the "hug drug" because the drug can trigger strong feelings of affection. Users often describe the effect as a warm tingling sensation that spreads all over the body. Depending on the dosage, the effect can vary in intensity and is accompanied by a feeling of openness and friendliness and an intense need for physical contact. Another interesting effect of MDMA: sexual needs and sociability, as the drug makes sensations more intense. However, the drug can also have a number of undesirable side effects, for example users often report muscle cramps - especially in the jaw - loss of appetite, thirst, restless legs syndrome, strongly fluctuating temperature sensations, dizziness or headaches. These symptoms usually occur in the first few hours after taking the drug along with the desired effect.

However, in order to answer not only the question of what MDMA is, but also the question of how MDMA works, it is also necessary to take into account the frequency and frequency of use. This is because the intended positive effects mainly occur with single use. It is a well-known phenomenon with MDMA that the more often the drug is used, the less spectacular the desired effects are - but not the side effects. It is also known that repeated use can lead to long-term effects such as depression, panic attacks, concentration problems and heart disease. This is partly due to the fact that the active ingredient affects the serotonin system in the brain. When taken, MDMA causes an increased release of serotonin, which explains the intense feelings of happiness during the trip. Afterwards, however, the serotonin stores are completely depleted and the body first has to produce serotonin again. This can take up to a week and the repeated intake causes profound changes to this system.

How is MDMA taken?

There are a few different ways to take MDMA, but it is most commonly taken nasally or orally. It can also be injected, but this is not practiced in recreational use. In ecstasy form, it is only taken as pills, but if you have bought powder or crystals, you can either take it in capsules or wrapped in a piece of tissue if no capsules are available. This is often called a "bomb" or "parachute". But which is better - taking MDMA orally or nasally? A combination of nasal and oral ingestion is usually preferred, as you can then enjoy the benefits of both the rapid onset of action and the long duration of effect.

An assortment of MDMA tablets

When does MDMA work?

How quickly the effect sets in and how long MDMA lasts depends largely on how much is taken and how it is taken. In general, it can be assumed that when taken nasally, the effect sets in after around ten minutes and then lasts for two to three hours. When taken orally, it can take up to an hour for the drug to take effect and the effect then lasts for around six hours. But what happens when MDMA is consumed in large quantities? At higher doses, MDMA can last longer and have much stronger effects - both intentional and unintentional. Microdosing with MD MA has also been increasingly discussed recently. However, there are hardly any reliable studies on this. It therefore remains to be seen whether microdosing is potentially useful in this case. The topic of microdosing with LSD has been much better researched. We also offer suitable (legal!) products for this in our store. This is a synthetically produced LSD derivative.

MDMA: Dosage

But what is a standard dose, and what is the best MDMA dosage? As with all psychoactive substances, the correct dosage depends on body size, weight and state of health. This value is usually expected to be between 60 and 120 mg for MDMA. This can be calculated more precisely by assuming 1.5 mg MDMA per kilogram of body weight. When making these calculations, however, it is also important to know how much of the substance is contained in the respective preparation. As the famous ecstasy pills in particular contain other drugs mixed in and sometimes contain hardly any MDMA (or multiples of a maximum dose), you should be very careful when taking them.

In general, it is strongly discouraged to try untested substances. If you are interested in experimenting with MDMA yourself, it may make sense to use either pure crystals or preparations for which there are already experience reports (e.g. from your own circle of friends). At this point, we would also like to mention that we do not expressly recommend the use of drugs, but would like to use this article solely to provide information.

What does MDMA look like?

We now know what MDMA is, but what does it actually look like? 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine in its pure form takes the shape of crystals. This is why it is also called "crystals". MDMA crystals can be either very small or slightly larger, but are very easy to crumble and crush. Depending on the degree of purity, the crystals are transparent to milky-cloudy. MDMA crystals can also be bought in powder form, but unfortunately it is no longer possible to tell whether other drugs or extenders such as milk powder have been added. If MDMA is not sold as a crystal or powder, it is available pressed into pills as ecstasy. These come in all shapes and colors. However, as described above, the problem here is that the actual amount of MDMA contained is not known. Mixed consumption is generally never recommended, as (sometimes unknown) interactions can occur, and caution is therefore advised here. This of course also applies to MDMA and alcohol.

MDMA crystals
MDMA crystals. The picture "1g MDMA-HCl" by Bsteinmann is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

How long is MDMA detectable?

Users who regularly use their car or bicycle on the roads are of course particularly interested in how long MDMA remains in their blood and urine and whether it can be detected with a drug test. And just because the effects of MDMA have already worn off does not mean that it leaves no traces in the body. It can very well still be detected in drug tests some time later. How long depends on how much and how often it was consumed. If we assume a single standard dose, the active substance can still be detected in the blood around 24 hours later and in the urine for up to four days. Hair samples are also used for drug tests from time to time and the substance can still be found several months later. Incidentally, the detection times differ for different drugs. We also have an article on the detection of LSD. You can also find it on our blog!

The fines for driving under the influence of drugs vary depending on how often you are caught and whether your behavior has endangered others. In general, it is not recommended to get into a car after taking drugs (no matter what kind). You are not only a danger to yourself, but also to others.

What is MDMA? - Final words

In this article, we have explained what MDMA is, what its effects are and what you should be aware of. MDMA is very popular despite the risks. A drug that not only makes you more social, but also makes you (more) horny? The hype is understandable. And even if there is nothing wrong with self-experimentation with psychoactive substances, you have to be aware of the risks and handle them responsibly. Knowledge is power and the better informed you are, the better you can assess yourself and possible experiences. Our aim and the intention of our work is to remove the taboos surrounding drugs and to educate people. This creates space for an open and responsible approach to the topic and both psychological and physical risks can be minimized. We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of what MDMA is and how it works.