Reproduced (with permission) from mixmag, May 1999
How can you survive the post-ecstasy blues? How could orange juice save you from brain damage? Why should clubbers drink Horlicks? All is revealed in the good comedown guide.
If you're a clubber, and you're reading this, it is quite likely you take or have take taken drugs. If you take Class A drugs, it's a fact that as their effects wear off you'll have a comedown.
Most of the time it's all fine. Fun, even. Sunday morning melting into Sunday lunchtime, all back to mine, where everything's a pleasantly fuzzy mess. Your living room's full of your mates, all skinning up, playing mellow music, watching daft videos, talking rubbish, having a laugh, chilling out. It's as much a part of most people's clubbing experience as getting ready or being searched at the door.
But, occasionally, comedowns aren't like that. Maybe you overdid it the night before. Maybe it just happened for no reason you can think of. Ask anyone who's suffered their way through the physical aches and pains, the bursts of inexplicable paranoia, the never-ending, fruitless search for sleep and that horrible feeling of being physically and mentally rinsed out. A bad comedown is pretty fucking unpleasant.
The effects can last longer than a Sunday. Plenty of clubbers have stories of monstrous comedowns coming back to haunt them in midweek, with unpleasant, vivid nightmares.
So, is there a way of avoiding a comedown, or limiting the damage to your knackered brain and body the morning after the night before? Sadly, the only sure-fire way to avoid a comedown is not to take drugs. No matter what advice you take and how carefully you plan ahead, the fact remains that you usually don't actually know what's in the tablet you've taken. If it's got a bit of LSD or ketamine in it, your comedown is going to be significantly different.
But, bearing that in mind, there are some precautionary measures you can take. Mixmag asked some doctors and psychologists for their advice. Here's what we found out.
NOBODY is exactly sure how ecstasy damages the brain, but it seems likely that the drug increases the production of harmful chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals are poisonous by-products of normal body processes, and have also been linked to cancer and heart disease.
Fortunately, free radicals can be mopped up by Vitamin C, so any ecstasy user would be well advised to drink orange juice both before and after taking a pill. Recent medical research seem to confirm this theory: experiments have shown that rats that were given ecstasy and Vitamin E and C had markedly reduced brain damage compared to rats which were just given ecstasy.
DOES IT WORK? Yes. As soon as you get in, drink a couple of glasses of orange juice. Or eat a couple of oranges
BIZARRE as it may seem, eating Marmite may be a very good idea. When you experience a comedown after taking E, you are suffering from a lack of seratonin. Marmite contains a substance called tryptophan, an amino acid which is one of the building blocks of seratonin. So eating marmite helps your body manufacture more seratonin.
However, there's no point in just eating a whole jar of the stuff and thinking you'll immediately feel fine. As soon as you can face food afterwards, you should start eating a sensible balanced diet. Marmite is just part of that. In addition, you should leave the Marmite until at least 12 hours after your last pill so that the ecstasy has stopped working.
DOES IT WORK? Yes. We recommend a couple of slices of toast and marmite on Sunday evening
WHETHER it's a civilised post-club vodka in your front room, or an unruly crowd of mashed ravers piling into a pub at opening time, drinking alcohol is one method frequently employed to take the edge off comedowns and induce sleep. But does it do any good?
The pleasant effect of alcohol comes because it is a sedative - it helps get rid of the agitation and restlessness of a comedown, and will help you sleep. However, mixing drugs with alcohol will complicate any comedown. In addition, the dehydration that comes with drinking alcohol is going to aggravate the physical aches and pains you get after a night's raving. If you want to avoid feeling rough, you should stay off the drink while you're out clubbing and stay off it when you get back.
DOES IT WORK? No. it might make you feel better for a while, but it'll dehydrate you more. if you must drink, try to drink soft drinks as well
ANOTHER CHEEKY LINE?
IF THERE'S one thing worse for you than drinking alcohol, it's mixing cocaine with E at any stage of the evening. Whether it's a line in the toilets or splitting a wrap between you when you get home, doing coke could increase the danger of something grim happening to you.
The toxic effects of ecstasy are due to the increases in the levels of two chemicals in the brain, called seratonin and dopamine. If you take coke with E, there results a further increase in dopamine levels, and therefore a greater chance of there being a neurotoxic effect.
In addition, high dopamine levels are what cause "movement disorder" - the gurning and eye-rolling we all know and hate.
DOES IT WORK? No. Taking cocaine after ecstasy makes it more likely that you'll suffer some kind of long term brain damage
VALIUM? TEMAZEPAM? ROHYPHOL?
THERE'S been a massive increase in recent years of clubbers wiping out their comedown with the aid of sleeping pills and anti-depressants. They're running a serious risk. "Downers" are dangerous in combination with other drugs, especially alcohol. Unless they are administered by a trained doctor, it's easy to overdose, especially as the drugs take a long time to work - so it's tempting to take more and more.
Downers depress the central nervous system, which can lead to problems like poor co-ordination, memory lapses and breathing difficulties. Plus, if you mix stimulants and downers week in week out, you run the risk of getting into "polypharmacy" -chasing one drug effect with another, and eventually getting hooked on downers. Not nice.
DOES IT WORK? Not in the long term. Ditch the downers. If you must use them, don't take big doses and don't mix them with alcohol
BELIEVE it or not, those nighttime drinks you probably haven't touched since your mum made them for you might do some good. Both Horlicks and Ovaltine owe their much-vaunted "sleepy" qualities to the fact they have high levels of tryptophan in them (like Marmite). They make you sleepy because the tryptophan causes a surge in seratonin in the brain. It's not a quick fix - you're not going to come down after you've taken three wraps of speed just because you have a mug of Horlicks - but you're certainly off better drinking that than drinking lager.
DOES IT WORK? Yes. Drink a cup of ovaltine before stumbling to bed. OK, it doesn't look too cool, but it might fix a few brain cells
IT'S the classic chill-out standby: have a smoke and sooner or later you'll just drift off. However, although a lot of people claim smoking dope mellows them out, the drug does not have a predictable effect. Marijuana can prevent you from sleeping, and can also make you feel uncomfortable or paranoid.
On the other hand, it can give you the munchies, and if you eat something well-balanced with nutrients, that can help you feel better
DOES IT WORK? It depends on the individual
WATER? ISOTONIC DRINKS?
JUST as every clubber knows that e ecstasy user should drink water, the same is true on a comedown. One of the most basic physical symptoms of a comedown is acute hydration: you've been out dancing and sweating all night, you've taken amphetamine-based substances, you've probably been caning the fags and now you wonder why your tongue's stuck to the roof your mouth. You need water.
Better still, drink an isotonic drink. If you've been out all night sweating, you'll have lost lots of salts and you need to replace these. Stuff like Gatorade or Lucozade Sport may taste like sugary sweat, but they're really good for you. And if you don't feel better for it now, you certainly will when you wake up.
DOES IT WORK? Yes. Put that beer down and drink some water. Or better still, go out and buy Lucozade Sport or Gatorade
IN recent years, there have been reports that suggest taking Prozac with E may stop seratonin levels being depleted. One Internet report claimed taking Prozac six hours after ecstasy would minimise those comedown blues.
However, doctors are sceptical, saying that the anti-depressant effect of Prozac can take two weeks to kick in. Also, using Prozac with ecstasy may risk massively increasing seratonin levels. This can lead to seratonin syndrome, involving severe agitation and restlessness.
DOES IT WORK? No. Give the E/Prozac cocktail a miss. it'll do no good, and could give you the jitters.
WITH drugs like E in you, your heart rate increases and it's really hard to get to sleep. If you do, you can experience 'speed sleep'. Everyone who's ever had it knows that restless, sweaty post-club kip.
Natural sleep has different stages, from light dozing through to deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep - the sleep you have when you're dreaming. During 'speed sleep' you're not getting REM sleep. If your body is deprived of this, it eventually has to compensate. Which is why E users can suffer from vivid dreams or nightmares after they take the drug: their brain is trying to catch up with the missing sleep. There is a serious side to REM deprivation: if you go without it long enough, it will have a bad effect on your stability. In army experiments, subjects were consistently deprived of REM. They went completely loopy.
DOES IT WORK? Yes, it's the thing you need most. Shut your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine yourself at the top of a huge staircase. Slowly walk down it, and when you reach the bottom, you'll be asleep.
BEFORE YOU GO OUT
.... some things to do before the drug blizzard
IF YOU'RE GOING to take drugs, you're never going to prevent yourself from suffering a comedown. But there are preventative measures you can take to avoid feeling quite so grim the next day.
Mixmag's doctors advise eating something "salty or spicy" before you go out. Aside from the fact that if you take an E you're not going to eat for l2 hours (during which time you'll be dancing), eating something will aid the retention of body fluids.
In addition, if you take E on an empty stomach, your body will absorb the drug more quickly and this will lead to higher levels of the drug in your bloodstream. And the higher the level of E in your system, the lower you'll eventually feel when it wears off.
Another preventative measure that's become increasingly popular is "pre-loading": taking gel capsules that contain mixtures of salts, sugars, vitamins and amino acids. They're often touted as a pill-sized solution to a pill-sized problem, but some doctors are sceptical, suggesting you'd probably be better off eating a decent meal, and reaping the benefits of fluid retention as well. One thing that we can recommend for "pre-loaders" is a nice glass of orange juice.
Disclaimer This Guide is provided for informational purposes ONLY. RaveSafe, it's volunteers and its sponsors do not condone or advocate the use of illegal substances. RaveSafe accepts NO responsibility for the way the information in this used, nor for any harm that might occur from the use of the information contained in this document. Although a concerted effort has been made to ensure the validity of the information contained in this document, no guarantees or assurances of accuracy are provided by anyone. Read and act at your own risk.