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5 Things You Didn’t Know About MDMA

MDMA (Molly) Is a synthetic drug that brings on both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.1 Providing feelings of increased energy, an enhanced sense of well-being, empathy toward others, and enhanced sensory perception, MDMA can also cause acute adverse health effects.3 This page will share some facts that you may not know about MDMA/Molly.

What is Molly?

Molly is a street name for MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), a popular rave drug often used at nightclubs and music festivals to alter mood and perception.1 What does Molly do? Molly produces an energizing effect and enhanced enjoyment from sensory experiences.1

People may see Molly as a drug that helps them let loose, connect to others, and dance all night, but there are many facts about the substance of which users may be unaware.

MDMA Has Been Around for Over 100 Years

What is MDMA? MDMA (also known as ecstasy) is a synthetic substance that’s been around for more than 100 years. The substance was first synthesized in 1912 by a German pharmaceutical company attempting to create an appetite suppressant.2 It did not become illegal in the United States until 1988, when it was categorized as a Schedule I drug after illicit use started to become popular in the college “rave” and nightclub scene.1,2

You Never Know How Pure MDMA Is

Many use the term Molly to refer to a supposedly pure form of MDMA, reserving the term ecstasy for tablets thought more likely to be cut with other synthetic substances.1 In reality, many of the powders sold on the street as pure MDMA often contain other drugs and ingredients that you may not be aware of.1

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), much of the MDMA seized by police contains other substances, including:1,2

  • Ketamine.
  • PCP.
  • DXM.
  • Cocaine.
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”).
  • Ephedrine.
  • Pseudoephedrine.
  • Caffeine.
  • Various over-the-counter medications.

Molly Has Been Used in the Past for Therapeutic Research

Despite it being classified as a Schedule I drug, some research has indicated that MDMA may have certain therapeutic benefits.1 For instance, one randomized controlled study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD showed that 83% of those given MDMA showed improvement in PTSD symptoms compared to only 25% of those given a placebo.The drug was also used as a therapy aid for psychotherapy and marriage counseling in the 1970s, prior to it becoming a controlled substance in the late 1980s.1,2

MDMA Use Has Dangers

While MDMA may have therapeutic potential, as well as popularity as a “fun” rave drug, it comes with many risks and adverse effects that you should be aware of. Some potential short-term side effects of MDMA that may occur while you are under the influence include:1,3

  • Anxiety and/or paranoia.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Teeth clenching (involuntary).
  • Muscle cramps and tension.
  • Elevated blood pressure, body temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate.
  • Severe dehydration (especially when mixed with alcohol).
  • Cold chills.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Vertigo/fainting.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tremors.

When the drug wears off, the euphoric high and feelings of love and understanding quickly fade and often leave the user feeling dark and depressed.

Withdrawal or “comedown” symptoms may include:1,3

  • Depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Anxiety.
  • Aggression.
  • Impulsive behavior.
  • Cognitive problems.
  • Memory issues.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Loss of libido.

Long-Term Risks of MDMA Use

There are several long-term risks associated with prolonged or frequent use of MDMA. When you take a dose of MDMA, several neurotransmitter systems are impacted. The associated surge in serotonin activity is thought to underly a temporary elevation in mood, a heightened sense of perception, and more empathy toward others.1,3

However, as the drug wears off, serotonin activity drops and levels become relatively depleted. This temporary depletion of active serotonin may be the cause of any post-MDMA depression.

Other potentially persistent adverse effects of MDMA include:1,3

  • Sleep problems.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Confusion.
  • Cognition and memory problems.
  • Death.

Molly Overdose Is a Possibility

While it is a rare occurrence, it is possible to die from a single night of MDMA use. Large doses of MDMA can affect your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature.3 Taking too much MDMA can lead to a spike in body temperature, which has the potential to exacerbate muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) and may be additionally associated with kidney, heart, and other organ failure and, in rare cases, even death.1,3

Most deaths related to MDMA do not occur from an overdose on the drug itself but because of heatstroke after dancing all night with no water and becoming severely dehydrated.

How to Get Help for MDMA Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with MDMA misuse, know that help is available, and recovery is possible. Professional drug and alcohol rehab programs can give those battling addiction the tools needed to live happy and healthy lives. You can contact a caring American Addiction Centers (AAC) admissions navigator free at at any time, day or night, to learn more about drug addiction and treatment options and find MDMA treatment programs. You can also check your health insurance coverage for inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment using the form below.

Insurance Providers That May Cover MDMA Rehab

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