Microdosing MDMA | Overview, Effects, & Risks

Microdosing is a form of drug use that involves taking very small amounts of hallucinogenic drugs as a form of self-medication for various health conditions.

While MDMA is used in the form of ecstasy tablets or molly capsules taken at clubs, concerts, and raves, some have proposed that MDMA can have positive effects on a person’s emotional state and mental functioning if taken regularly in very low doses, or micro doses.

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic drug that blocks the reuptake of serotonin and stimulates serotonin release in the central nervous system, along with other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

In high doses, this triggers a euphoric high with entactogenic qualities including feelings of connection, oneness, and emotional openness.

What Is Microdosing?

Microdosing is a pattern of drug use that typically involves psychedelic drugs like LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms/shrooms), ayahuasca, or mescaline, which are taken at very low doses regularly in a form of experimental self-medication.

The theory of microdosing is that these drugs, which can have severe mind-altering effects at recreational doses, may also influence and improve a person’s mental functioning, creativity, and overall well-being at very low doses.

Microdosing has also been proposed as a treatment for a wide variety of mental conditions, ranging from anxiety disorders to depression, PTSD, OCD, and others.

Microdosing MDMA

While MDMA is less commonly used for microdosing than psychedelic drugs, there are those who believe that taking lower than recreational doses of MDMA on a regular basis can provide sensory enhancement and increase a person’s mood, energy, and emotional openness.

Does Microdosing Work?

Experts aren’t sure.

At this time, clinical research on the effectiveness of microdosing is lacking, especially when it comes to MDMA. This is because the drug has been classified as an illicit Schedule I controlled substance with no valid medical use since 1985, making clinical trials and research largely impossible.

Without scientific study and controlled trials, it is difficult to say if micro doses of MDMA actually have a significant impact or if the placebo effect is at work.

It’s also unclear to what extent the drug might be beneficial, who would benefit most from using it, and what health risks or adverse effects microdosing can cause, especially over a long period of time or when used in combination with other prescription or illicit substances.

Can MDMA Be Used Therapeutically?

Early in its use, before being declared a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA, MDMA was often referred to as ADAM or empathy, and was used in therapeutic settings by a variety of counselors and psychotherapists.

In recent years, interest in MDMA-assisted psychotherapies has once again increased. In 2017, the FDA granted the drug a breakthrough therapy designation for clinical trials in the treatment of severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Effects & Risks Of Microdosing MDMA

While certain effects of MDMA are broadly similar to those of antidepressant drugs, suggesting MDMA may be effective in treating certain mental health conditions, the drug is also associated with a variety of potential risks.

While microdosing is intended to reduce the risk of these side-effects and adverse reactions by using MDMA or other drugs only in very small amounts, these risks cannot be discounted.

Side Effects

Immediate side effects associated with MDMA use can include:

  • dehydration
  • high body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • erectile dysfunction

Comedown Effects

After moderate MDMA use, many individuals will experience fatigue and mental health effects including:

  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • depression
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • impaired memory
  • inability to feel normal pleasure

These effects can last from several days to a week.

Fillers & Additives

Because MDMA is an illicit, man-made drug it is very difficult to verify exactly what substances are included in any particular MDMA sample.

In fact, ecstasy tablets are commonly laced with other stimulants like amphetamine, methamphetamine, and bath salts, as well as hallucinogens like ketamine, DMT, MDA, and others. Tablets have even been found to contain the hyper-potent opioid drug fentanyl.

This can lead to MDMA having a variety of unexpected and unpredictable effects and side-effects when used.

Dosing Errors

As its name suggests, microdosing is highly dependent on using the correct dose of a specific drug. And, with MDMA being produced illicitly using uncertain ingredients, dosing can be difficult and unpredictable, leading to unwanted, and sometimes unwantedly-intense, effects.


Experts warn that using small amounts of MDMA can lead to dependence, tolerance, and addiction. What starts as microdosing can grow with time, leading to negative long-term effects and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if and when you stop using MDMA.

Get Addiction Help

To learn about our outpatient treatment options for substance abuse and addiction, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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