“Flipping,” in this context, means taking MDMA and something else together. Hippie flipping, or Flower flipping, means the something else is psilocybin mushrooms[i]. “MDMA,” for those not familiar, is short for 3.4-methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine, but you may be more familiar with it under names like “ecstasy” or “molly.” It’s a synthetic substance popular as a party drug, but it has also been used to assist with therapy for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s not exactly hallucinogenic, but it does enhance the senses as well as alter the mood and up the energy level.
Now, if you like taking shrooms and you like taking ecstasy, combining the two might sound like a great idea. It’s not. Or, rather, it’s not necessarily a good idea. Lots of people seem to have good experiences Hippie Flipping, but there are some serious risks involved. Not to scare you, it’s just not something to do on a whim.
So if you think you might want to give Hippie Flipping a try, or even if you’re just curious, you can start your learning journal by reading on. Hopefully, even if this is the first article you’ve read on the subject, it will not be the last. Mixing drugs is tricky business, and you need to know as much as possible before you seriously consider trying it.
We should also point out that Hippie Flipping is illegal in most jurisdictions because use or possession of both of its components is illegal in most jurisdictions. Please know the law in your area and do not go to prison.
What Is Hippie Flipping Like?
Reportedly, taking MDMA and shrooms together is a lot like taking either of them separately but more so—they tend to enhance each other. The specific nature of your experience will depend on many factors, including the purity of the MDMA, the dosage of each, when you take each one, your set and setting, and your baseline physical and mental health.
Honestly, a lot of people like it. Some don’t.
Effects of Hippie Flipping
The effects typically include euphoria and a feeling of social connection, focus on (and seeming enhancement of) the senses, and visual hallucination. Emotions can be very intense. Confusion is common, too—things can seem unreal, and although you may feel much more social than you normally do, understanding other people’s social cues may become difficult.
There are other effects, too, that we’ll talk about later.
When everything is going well, you get an amazingly sensual, joyful experience of connectedness with everyone around you. When it’s not right, the sensory enhancement might just seem overwhelming, your intense emotions might fly off in all sorts of difficult directions, and you might see some unpleasantly weird things right when you’re feeling more than a little confused.
Since both psilocybin and MDMA produce experiences that go through several phases, much depends on what order you take them in and how long after taking the first you take the second—which parts of the two difference chemical journeys are you combining?
How Long Do the Effects Last?
The length of the experience can vary a lot. A typical psilocybin trip can take anywhere from four to six hours, though eight or ten hours isn’t all that unusual, either. Come-up is gradual, leading to a peak about two hours in, and come-down usually gradual, too. The MDMA high usually lasts about three to six hours, but that’s followed by a low because your brain is basically exhausted. The low involves tiredness, sadness, headaches, and memory issues and can last several days. So if you take the two drugs at close to the same time, you’re probably in for about six hours, or perhaps less. If you take one as the other is finishing up, it may be more like ten hours, or possibly longer.
Hippie Flipping Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Part of the problem with both MDMA and psilocybin being illegal is that very little research has been done on either, and none at all has been done on both together. So there many be risk factors and side effects associated with hippie flipping that we don’t know about yet—and that is the first risk to understand.
But we do know about side effects and risks associated with each substance separately, and hippie flippers could experience both sets of issues.
There is no way to make Hippie Flipping risk free—at present it’s not even possible to be sure how risky it is. But users who educate themselves as much as possible and take appropriate precautions can make the whole experience much safer and more rewarding.
Psilocybin Safety Concerns
Psilocybin is relatively safe in that serious side effects are rare. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, excessive yawning, and problems with coordination and balance. Driving on shrooms is a very bad idea (except at microdoses), and coping with practical problems might become difficult—but with a little pre-planning, driving and practical problems can be avoided during the trip.
But all this being said, serious side effects are possible. Intense anxiety is not uncommon. Psychological damage, though apparently less of a concern than it’s made out to be, could be a risk. “Wood-lovers paralysis,” while probably not a side effect of psilocybin itself, can occur with some psilocybin-containing mushrooms (especially those that grow on wood). A few people have also gone into convulsions or even died while using psilocybin.
The risk of serious side effects goes up with the dose, so keeping doses on the low side, plus taking other basic safety precautions, can keep the risk minimal.
One of the biggest potential problems with psilocybin is not actually a physical danger. One of the reasons many people enjoy using psilocybin is that it changes the user’s perspective, allowing for significant personal and spiritual insights. For this reason, psilocybin has been used both in therapy and as part of spiritual and religious practice. However, learning from psilocybin requires not just learning from it but actually letting it teach you. That means carefully preparing mentally for each trip and then taking the time to process the experience afterwards, ideally with the help of an experienced therapist or spiritual guide. Simply taking psilocybin for the fun of it and not processing at all could risk emotional and spiritual harm and definitely means you’re not getting as much out of it as you could.
MDMA Safety Concerns
MDMA side effects are not rare—the body and brain go through certain temporary changes with every high[ii]. If all goes well, these changes will not cause any lasting harm. Safe use, or safe-er use, involves increasing the chance that all goes well. Unfortunately, MDMA’s reputation as a fun party drug means that many users are unintentionally doing everything they can to put themselves at greater risk.
MDMA impairs judgment, leading to risk-taking. That’s fine if you’re in therapy or quietly communing with a beloved (and sober) friend, but on a dance-floor among strangers it’s likely to lead to unprotected sex.
The MDMA high involves a massive release of neurotransmitters, which then unavoidably run low for a while afterwards, causing a range of unpleasant neurological symptoms, such as depression and lack of focus. Users can prepare by setting aside time for recovery and self-care, but using MDMA again and again without taking time to recover leads to chronic serotonin deficiency.
MDMA is a stimulant and, as such, raises the blood pressure and heart rate. It also elevates body temperature. Neither is necessarily a problem in a healthy person in a safe environment, but if you have an underlying medical problem, or if you are partying hard on a hot and sweaty dance floor and not drinking enough water, you could get very sick—or even die.
MDMA can also make seizures more likely. This one, which sounds straight-forward, actually requires a bit of explanation.
Anyone can have a seizure under the wrong circumstances—how easily a seizure can be triggered is called a person’s seizure threshold. Most people have such a high threshold that they will never have a seizure unless something else goes horribly wrong (such as the growth of a brain tumor). Others have a lower threshold and require a less severe disaster to seize. “Epilepsy” is simply the name for having such a low threshold that every-day life can trigger a seizure. But the scary thing is that each seizure you have lowers your threshold a little, making the next one more likely.
MDMA lowers your seizure threshold. If you don’t have a seizure, your threshold goes back up once your brain recovers from the high (and the low), and you’re fine. But if you do seize—and, frankly, partying hard is not the way way to keep your risk low—then your threshold is permanently lowered, just a little. Your risk of seizing will be elevated for life. If your threshold was already on the low side (and you might not know that it is), the change could be enough to put you into epilepsy territory.
It is difficult to get information on how likely MDMA-related problems are, but the risk is far from zero. Frequent use, and use as a party drug, elevate the risk substantially.
It’s also important to recognize a risk unrelated to MDMA itself—the drug you take might not be MDMA at all. It’s not unusual for material to be sold as MDMA that is either heavily adulterated or actually contains no MDMA at all. In that case, your risks are those of whatever it is you took, in whatever combination the manufacturer decided to mix up. Developing a reliable source and, if necessary, testing your own supply, is absolutely critical, however still illegal.
How to Hippie Flip
Taking shrooms and MDMA together is not difficult, but it’s not quite as simple as just eating both of them. The first complication is that the two substances have different timelines for how they influence your brain, so which one you take first and when you take the second one makes a difference as to how the two will interact. The second complication is that either substance alone can be very enjoyable OR (if something goes wrong) very unpleasant—and when you use them both together, that goes double. It’s important to do everything you can to maximize your chance of having a safe and enjoyable time.
Hippie Flipping Safely
Because there’s been no research done on hippie flipping, we don’t actually know what all of the risks are or how big they are. So we don’t actually know whether hippie flipping can ever be called “safe.” Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. What we do know is that by combining the best practices for each substance, plus keeping the doses low, it’s possible to make hippie-flipping safe-er.
- Make sure your MDMA really is pure MDMA. Don’t go taking drugs without knowing what they are or how they might interact!
- Check on your physical and mental health. Don’t use MDMA, either alone or with psilocybin unless your heart is healthy and your blood pressure normal or low. Don’t use MDMA if you have risk factors for heat stroke or if you’re going to be somewhere that makes staying cool and staying hydrated difficult. Don’t use MDMA if you have reason to suspect your seizure threshold might be lower than normal (red flags are prior seizures, even subtle “absence seizures, or a family history of epilepsy). Don’t hippie flip except under the guidance of a qualified therapist if your mental health is fragile.
- Prepare for your trip. Think about what your goals are, what you’d like to have happen. Plan accordingly.
- Pay attention to set (mindset) and setting (your surroundings). Psilocybin intensifies and deepens whatever mood you have going in, so if you’re nervous or grumpy, you’re not likely to have a good time. Likewise, if your surroundings are unpleasant, overwhelming, unsafe, or stressful, that’s going to influence your trip.
- Have a trip-sitter or sober buddy. It’s a good idea never to trip alone. A trip-sitter is like a life-guard—unnecessary most of the time, but you never know when you’ll need one. If you want privacy for your trip, your sitter can sit in the other room and just look in on you occasionally. If you want to connect (more likely, when MDMA is involved), you have a friend right there—one who, being sober, will say no if you want to try anything risky or ill-advised (unprotected sex, for example).
- Take time to recover and process. Don’t expect to get up and go to work the next day like normal, and definitely don’t hippie-flip again right away. If you feel awful—and you may—don’t let it get to you; the world isn’t horrible and neither are you, you’re just low on neurotransmitters. You will feel better soon, and in the meantime, be kind to yourself. When you’re ready, journal, make art, talk to a therapist or guide, or whatever works for you to help you integrate and understand your experience. Let yourself be changed. Let yourself grow.
Hippie Flipping Dosage
Exactly what doses of psilocybin and MDMA you should take depends on many factors, including your size, your metabolism, and your level of experience with both. Remember that because the psilocybin content varies from one kind of mushroom to the next (and, to some extent, even between individual mushrooms) and how much you need to eat to get a given psilocybin dose is going to vary.
It’s good to try to match the doses of the two substances—not that you get the same dose of both, of course, but that you get equivalent doses sizes, so that they are both small or both medium, and so on.
But whatever you normally take of each substance by itself, make sure to take less when you take them both together. The add to each other and enhance each other, so that when you take both you get a more power experience than you would with either alone.
Your chance of having a problem goes up with dose size, and especially goes up if you take more than you are prepared for. So make sure to always err on the side of taking too little rather than too much.
Timing Is Everything
The standard advice is to take the shrooms first, let them begin to kick in, and get a sense of how you’re feeling, how the psilocybin alone is treating you, and whether you really want to take it up a notch. If you do, then at least an hour into your shroom trip, go ahead and add the MDMA. Part of the reason to do it this way is that an MDMA high often lasts a little less time than a shroom trip does, and is followed by a low. If you took the two at the same time, or if you took the MDMA first, you’d come down off your MDMA high while you were still tripping—and there you’d be, neurotransmitter-deficient and starting to feel pretty bad while still on psilocybin, a substance notorious for taking however you feel and turning it up to 11. You don’t want a post-MDMA low turned up to 11. So take the shrooms first.
[i] Elyse, B. (2020). Hippie Flipping: What to Know About Mixing MDMA and Mushrooms. Double Blind