Next time you’re in the drowning depths of an MDMA-induced existential crisis and one of your friends gloats that they “don’t really get comedowns,” you’ll have to bite your tongue and believe them — as it turns out, they could be right. A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has found no evidence that MDMA makes you sad after you take it, meaning that your deep, day-after despair might be all in your head — er, kind of.
The study focused on MDMA in a clinical setting only, meaning that comedowns probably don’t exist when you take pure molly, limit your intake, don’t drink alcohol with it and get enough sleep afterwards. For recreational users, this typically isn’t the case, therefore — sorry — you’ll probably still feel like shit afterwards. Nevertheless, the discovery bodes well for proponents of using MDMA in a clinical setting, who claim that the drug is beneficial in treating mental health disorders, including anxiety and PTSD.
To make the finding, the researchers gave 14 participants MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. They then measured mood, sleep quality and illicit MDMA consumption following the trial. In the end, all participants said they maintained a positive mood throughout the week following the clinical MDMA administration. At three- and six-month follow-ups, they also said that their sleep quality improved, and none of the participants — who all spoke highly of the treatment — reported using or wanting to use illicit MDMA after the study.
“We measured mood for a week after each session using the Profile of Mood States questionnaire,” Ben Sessa, one of the study’s co-authors, told VICE, adding that, in each participant, they found that “mood was not reduced” but instead “elevated — an afterglow effect — for seven days post-clinical MDMA in all patients.” Sessa asserted that this shouldn’t be a trusted theory when it comes to recreational use, explaining that other factors like exercising excessively (aka dancing) while on MDMA — therefore raising your body temperature — and drinking too much water can actually be toxic, while the lack of sleep that usually comes with MDMA is likely to contribute to a low mood afterwards.
This isn’t the first time Sessa has studied MDMA, nor found that it can result in an afterglow as opposed to a comedown. In 2019, he hit the headlines for the exact same thing. And despite confirming he’s talking about clinically-administered MDMA only, Sessa’s theory adds up for a number of recreational users. “I don’t know if it’s because my stuff is fire or [because] we don’t redose and/or go crazy with dosages, but all my friends and I take 100-170 milligrams of MDMA every three months, supplement correctly, have a generally healthy/normal lifestyle and we never get comedowns,” wrote redditor HawksBeak in r/MDMA. “It can best be described as an afterglow for up to a week before returning to baseline.” Although HawksBeak does describe experiencing physical symptoms like their “jaw hurting from clenching,” they’re adamant that they never feel emotionally or energetically wrecked afterwards.
Unlike HawksBeak, who measured their dose and didn’t take any more than that, other redditors have reported taking unknown doses and feeling super fucked-up, but not getting a comedown either. Last month, Impossible-Drama5675 said, “I took half a pill, the peak lasted three to four hours, pure euphoria, dancing like a crackhead in my room… I was ready to feel horrible but no, I felt extremely relaxed and euphoric for the next few hours. Then I had a beautiful afterglow for the next four days.”
Another redditor, Unicorncorn, had a similar experience, writing earlier this month: “So I have some tested pressies and I have taken a half and a full one on separate occasions. Taking it whole was a bad idea and I was rolling way, way, way too hard for the first hour or so. Anyway, neither time did I have a comedown, and felt good, if not better than usual the next day.”
Aside from factors like the purity and dosage of the MDMA, other prescribed medication (taking MDMA while on SSRIs can make both drugs less effective, meaning your depression could worsen), as well as what you’re doing while you’re on it and how much sleep you get afterwards, it’s unclear why some people get comedowns badly and others don’t. Maybe your perpetually happy pal — who isn’t suffering as badly as you, despite doing all the things you did — is just lying! But if you don’t want to give up dancing, staying up all night and taking molly recreationally, then at least there are some home remedies that might make the comedown more bearable.
If not, at least you can take comfort in the fact that a comedown probably means you had a good night out.