So we’ve heard from several sources that taking MDMA can be a bit of fun if you take it properly. We’ve also heard from several sources that booze is also a bit of fun if you take it properly. But what happens when you take them together?
If you stay at low doses for both substances and you have a decent tolerance for them, you’re not running a lot of risks. You might do yourself a mischief if you accidentally get the jaw clenches and start chewing on a metal straw, which is a bit embarrassing and get you an expensive dental bill, but that’s about all.
In saying that, there are definite risks to this combo. We don’t recommend polydrug use (and yes, alcohol is a drug) because the risks of each substance are increased and the substances can interact unpredictably.
But if you decide that MDMA and alcohol is the cocktail you fancy, these are the things that you’ll want to keep in mind.
You won’t feel drunk until the MDMA wears off. This is less fun than it sounds
MDMA is a stimulant. This masks the soporific effect that too much alcohol has.
If you’ve had MDMA and booze together you may not notice how much you’re drinking because you’re not getting the usual warning signs your body will give you, like slurred speech, loss of motor control, and so on.
Because you’re not getting these warning signs, it’s easy to keep drinking long after you should have stopped and get into alcohol toxicity levels.
So when the MDMA wears off your body isn’t being kept running by the stimulant any more and can crash in quite a spectacular fashion. This can end in things like
- Cardiac arrest (PLOS via the NIH website)
- Sudden acute alcohol poisoning (Journal of Psychopharmacology)
Both of these things have been involved in deaths overseas and here in Aotearoa. We’d much rather you didn’t die, so maybe keep an eye on how many drinks you’re having over the night.
The water situation needs to be monitored super carefully
The rule of thumb when you’re drinking alcohol is you have one full cup of water (250ml) for every alcoholic drink you have to keep from getting too wrecked.
You have a shot and a beer chaser, that’s two cups of water. If you and your mates have boat races and knock back 5 or so shots, that’s 5 cups of water. You get the picture. Also, alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you need to pee lots.
The thing is, MDMA affects your hypothalamus and how it interacts with vasopressin. Vasopressin is the hormone that tells you when you need to pee.
For some folks their vasopressin release is suppressed at the beginning of their MDMA adventure, so they have to pee a lot. In the later end of the adventure for some people peeing just doesn’t happen, no matter how much you’ve drunk.
That’s because the MDMA is starting to wear off and the hypothalamus isn’t busy handling the serotonin flood, so it can release the vasopressin. The built-up excess vasopressin is being picked up in the pituitary gland and processed, which tells your body that you don’t need to pee.
You might have drunk your way through all of the beer taps pint by pint, but as far as your pituitary gland is concerned, your bladder is empty and peeing is just not a thing.
So ideally if you’ve had MDMA you cap your fluid intake at one full cup (125ml) of water per hour. This gives your body time to process the water and let you pee it out without damaging your bladder or kidneys.
You see where this is going, right? You need to drink enough water to not wreck yourself with booze, but also you need to keep that level low enough for your bladder to keep up with the rate that your brain’s telling it to pee so you don’t wreck yourself with built-up fluids.
This is going to be a particularly uncomfortable tightrope to walk. Ideally maybe have only one or two alcoholic drinks at the start of the night and then stick to water? Your bladder and kidneys will thank you.
A disinhibitor added to another disinhibitor can lead to questionable decisions
Both alcohol and MDMA are disinhibitors that can make your impulse control fly out of the window.
They can make you more likely to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, like signing up for a perineum-sunning weekend or climbing up the several hundred-metre tall scaffolding in a building site because you want a better look at the stars. Best case scenario you have some Type 1 or Type 2 fun, no harm, no foul.
Worst case scenario you wind up doing something dangerous that’ll get you hurt, like trying to hug the lions at the zoo because their manes look SO DAMN FLUFFY.
A word about consent
Both alcohol and MDMA can increase your libido as well as make your impulse control go out the window. MDMA can also make you want to pat all of the humans because they’re pretty and potentially wearing fabrics that feel amazing against your hands/face/skin.
Before you indulge it’s a good idea to take stock of the following:
- Where you’re going, and how you’re getting home
- Who you’re going to be with
- Who your sober person is on the adventure
- Where your boundaries are in terms of who’s allowed to interact with you and on what level. Some people might be at full-contact snugpile squeezing level. Some people might be at handshake level. Some people don’t get to touch you at all. You get to decide that, and nobody else.
If you’re adventuring with someone (or someones) that you think things might get…interesting…with, pull them aside BEFORE you take your drugs and have a good conversation about boundaries. Also pack condoms, lube, and/or dental dams, just in case.
Remember, if it’s not a fuck yes when you’re sober, it’s a fuck no when you’re under the influence.
Also, you’re allowed to revoke your consent to something while you’re under the influence that you’ve agreed to sober. If something ain’t right in the moment, it ain’t right full stop. That goes for anything from special naked times to perineum-sunning.