MDMA (Ecstasy)

What is MDMA?
  • MDMA is the drug originally called ecstasy. It belongs to a family of drugs called entactogens, which means “touching within.” Other drugs in this category include MDA, MDE and MBDB.
  • MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceuticals in Germany, although it was never tested on humans. Recreational use of MDMA did not begin until the 1970s.
  • Before it was made illegal in 1985, MDMA was a therapeutic medicine. Studies are currently underway using MDMA to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the drug is on track to be approved as a prescription medication by the FDA in 2021.
What are the Effects?
  • MDMA is a mood elevator that produces a relaxed, euphoric state. It does not cause hallucinations.
  • MDMA is almost always swallowed as a pill, tablet, or capsule. Effects are typically felt within 20 to 40 minutes, and peak effects within 60 to 90 minutes.
  • The come-up on MDMA is usually short but intense, feeling like a wave of tingling and warmth coming over the body.
  • Sensations are enhanced and the user experiences heightened feelings of empathy, emotional warmth, and self-acceptance.
  • The effects of MDMA subside after about 3-5 hours.
  • Most users say the experience is very pleasant and highly controllable. Even at the peak of the effect, people can usually deal with important matters.
What is a Normal Dose?
  • For most people, a normal dose of MDMA is between 70 and 125mg. However, some people require more to feel the same effect, while others require less.
  • Taking a single redose of 1/3 to 1/2 the original dose around the 1.5 to 2.5 hour mark can extend the experience by another hour or two, but might worsen the comedown/crash. Redosing any more than this usually will only increase side effects.
Is MDMA Addictive?
  • MDMA is not physically dependence-forming, and it is not considered to be significantly rewarding and reinforcing (addictive). However, it can often take on great importance in people’s lives, and some people become compulsive, every-weekend users.
  • Compulsive users may be unconsciously trying to self-medicate for depression or social anxiety. However, MDMA is not a good long-term antidepressant. Effective treatments for depression are available from a qualified physician.
  • If taken too frequently, MDMA can stop working. Users report that the “magic” goes away. This can last for many years or be permanent. Remember, less is more.
  • It’s hard to say exactly how often is too often. Some people lose the magic after rolling every few months for a couple of years, while others lose it in less than a year after rolling on a weekly or biweekly basis.
Be Careful
  • Because of prohibition, MDMA is unregulated. As a result, “Ecstasy” tablets and “Molly” powder can vary widely in strength and contents. Sometimes they contain no MDMA at all, but rather different, more dangerous drugs.
  • MDMA increases the risk of heatstroke. About 20 people per year in the US die of heat stroke after taking MDMA. Remember to take breaks from dancing, cool down, and stay hydrated. Some people have died from drinking too much water after taking MDMA. This is called “hyponatremia” and happens when the body’s electrolytes (salts) become diluted. Stay hydrated, but don’t drink too much water. About two to four cups per hour is all you need.
  • Studies have shown that high doses of MDMA can cause damage to serotonin axons (neurons) in laboratory animals. It is possible that similar damage can occur in human recreational users who take high doses too often, and/or who dose in a hot environment.
  • Although many users feel fine the next day, often describing an “afterglow,” some people experience depression the day after taking MDMA. This post-roll depression (“crash”) can last for up to a week, or more in some cases. People with a history of depressive episodes may be more prone to long and/or difficult “crashes.”
  • Taking more MDMA at this point won’t make you feel better. This is because MDMA works by releasing a natural chemical in your brain called serotonin, and you only have so much of it in storage. It takes about three weeks for your brain to replenish the serotonin released by MDMA.
  • Mixing MDMA with alcohol, stimulants or other drugs can increase the risk of adverse reactions, including dehydration, hyperthermia (overheating), and cardiac arrhythmia.
  • MDMA is illegal and a conviction for possession or sale can carry long prison sentences.
  • If you choose to use MDMA, knowing why is the best way to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks. Whether it’s for therapy, self-exploration or purely for recreation, understanding your intentions will help you assess whether or not they are being met.

LSD: A Primer

What is LSD?
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is a hallucinogenic drug discovered in 1938. It was first ingested by the Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, on April 19th, 1943.
  • LSD is most often absorbed into small pieces of paper called “blotter,” but it can also be found in liquid form. It is almost always consumed orally.
  • LSD is extremely powerful. A typical dose is between 100 and 200 micrograms (mcg), which is such a small amount it makes it extremely difficult to measure. A single square of blotter or drop of liquid usually contains a typical dose, but may contain much more.
What are the Effects?

An LSD experience is often described as a “trip.” This experience may be broken up into four phases:

  1. The Onset – After about 30 minutes, colors appear sharper, moving objects leave “trails” behind them and flat surfaces may appear to “breathe.”
  2. The Plateau – Over the second hour, the effects become more intense. Open and closed eye visuals may begin to appear, from shapes in smoke to movement in the lines on the palms of the hand.
  3. The Peak – Time is often slowed significantly. Users may feel like they are in a different world, or a movie. Familiar things seem strange or unusual. For some this is profound and mystical, but it can be very frightening for others.
  4. The Comedown – 5 or 6 hours after taking the drug the effects begin to subside. After 8 to 12 hours, the trip is usually over, although residual effects may last much longer.
  • Because of prohibition, LSD is unregulated. Other, far more dangerous drugs, such as 25I-NBOMe (a synthetic hallucinogen that is used in biochemistry research for mapping the brain’s usage of the type 2A serotonin receptor) have been misrepresented as ‘LSD’ and sold in blotter or liquid form, leading to numerous deaths.
  • LSD trips can sometimes be frightening, inducing extreme anxiety and panic. Although rare, some people relive the experience days, weeks or even years later in episodes known as “flashbacks.” Flashbacks are not unique to hallucinogenic drugs; they can result from any intense psychological trauma.
  • LSD can induce very intense experiences that may exacerbate or bring out mental health conditions, especially mood or psychotic disorders. There is no hard and fast rule, but individuals with a personal or family history of mood or psychotic disorders have a higher baseline risk level when ingesting LSD and other psychedelics.
  • In a very small percentage of people, LSD and other hallucinogens have caused a long-lasting disorder known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) that affects the person’s visual perception.
  • LSD can impair judgment. Never drive while under the influence of LSD.
  • LSD is illegal and possession can result in long prison terms. Supplying LSD to someone else (whether or not money was exchanged) carries even longer sentences.
  • If you choose to use LSD, knowing why is the best way to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks. Whether it’s for insight, self exploration or simply for fun, your intentions will greatly impact the kind of experience you have.
Bad trip and what to do
  • As with all psychedelics, “set” and “setting” are important factors in determining whether someone has a positive or challenging experience. “Set” is the mental state a person brings to the experience— their thoughts, mood and expectations. “Setting” is the physical and social environment in which the drug is consumed. Being in a good mental state with trusted friends in a supportive environment before taking LSD reduces the risk of having a bad trip.
  • If someone is having a difficult or challenging psychological experience on LSD, take them to quiet surroundings where they feel comfortable. Find a friend who can reassure them. Clarify to them that their panic is caused by the drug, and will wear off soon.
  • If you are at a festival, find out if they have a safe space or cooldown area, especially one that is equipped with people who can offer support during difficult experiences.

Box of Rain – Grateful Dead

First performance: October 9, 1972, at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco. Disappeared from the repertoire less than a year later, brought back on March 20, 1986, at the Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. It remained in the repertoire thereafter—often sung in response to the chant “We Want Phil,” from Deadheads—and was the final song ever performed by the Grateful Dead, on July 9, 1995, at Soldier Field in Chicago, given as a second encore, following “Black Muddy River.”

Words by Robert Hunter
Music by Phil Lesh

Look out of any window
Any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
Birds are winging, no rain is falling from a heavy sky
What do you want me to do
To do for you to see you through?
For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago

Walk out of any doorway
Feel your way like the day before
Maybe you’ll find direction
Around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you
What do you want me to do
To watch for you while you’re sleeping?
Then please don’t be surprised when you find me dreaming too

Look into any eyes
You find by you; you can see clear to another day
Maybe been seen before
Through other eyes on other days while going home
What do you want me to do
To do for you to see you through?
It’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago

Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams to another land
Maybe you’re tired and broken
Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear
What do you want me to do
To do for you, to see you through?
A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through

Just a box of rain, wind and water
Believe it if you need it, if you don’t just pass it on
Sun and shower, wind and rain
In and out the window like a moth before a flame

And it’s just a box of rain, I don’t know who put it there
Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare
And it’s just a box of rain, or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long, long time to be gone and a short time to be there