How soon the effects of MDMA are felt depends on the method in which it is taken. Swallowing an ‘ecstasy’ pill or MDMA ‘bomb’ (MDMA powder wrapped in a cigarette paper) may result in a time lag of 20 minutes to an hour before the effects really kick in. Effects peak around 2 hours after a pill is swallowed. If a pill is in fact mostly or all another drug like PMMA (which can cause fatalities in moderate to large doses), effects may take longer to come on, so taking more to boost the effects without waiting is risky. Snorting MDMA crystal/powder allows for much quicker absorption into the bloodstream and so the effects are felt much sooner but do not last as long.
The effects of MDMA when swallowed last several hours. Although everyone reacts differently, the typical effects reported following a dose of MDMA can be described as follows:
- Increased energy, alertness and wakefulness.
- Higher body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure (especially when dancing)
- Lower aggression and anxiety (though anxiety can sometimes increase in some people).
- Lifted mood or euphoria.
- Increased empathy and sense of intimacy with others.
- Perceptual changes: heightened sense of colour; blurred vision.
- Muscle clenching, especially the jaw.
Anecdotally, it seems that taking very high doses of MDMA may only increase the energising speed like effects of MDMA, not the euphoric or emotional effects. Unpleasant effects, like anxiety, feeling unbearably hot, over-stimulated, confused or anxious are more likely the more you take.
Very rarely, heart attacks, strokes, and other medical emergencies can be brought on by MDMA, especially in people with pre-existing health problems, or who take it in big amounts and mix it with other drugs.
MDMA makes people feel thirsty and users can get dangerously hot if dancing non-stop. Some users have collapsed and even died from overheating and dehydration. In attempting to counter these problems a few people have also died from drinking too much water. MDMA affects the body’s ability to urinate out excess water, so too much water can cause the blood to become overly diluted, which can cause death (hyponatraemia). A much more common downside to MDMA is that its effects can be overwhelming, which can cause some people to become panicky.
Following MDMA use, there can be a comedown period which may last several days. In this period users may experience the following:
- Impaired concentration.
- Loss of appetite.