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Snorting Molly (MDMA) and its Side Effects and Risks

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What is Molly (MDMA)?

Molly, commonly referred to as MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a synthetic drug with both amphetamine stimulant properties and mild hallucinogenic effects. It is the primary psychoactive agent found in many ecstasy tablets; however, ecstasy pills are rarely pure MDMA—instead, the illicit manufacture of ecstasy pills commonly involves combining MDMA with other substances like caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, ketamine, or opioids 1.

Ecstasy is commonly taken in party environments due to its euphoric, empathy-inducing, energizing high 1, 2.

Often, ecstasy comes in pressed pill form which some users crush up into a powder for snorting. Snorting ecstasy can cause the effects to peak sooner for the user, but it may also increase the risks associated with use.

How Molly is Taken

Molly can be taken in different ways and how quickly the drug reaches the brain depends on how it was taken 3. The faster a drug reaches the brain, the faster the rewarding effects are induced, and the more likely the user is to develop an addiction 3.

When swallowed, the effects of ecstasy can be felt around 30-45 minutes after dosing 1, 4. Snorting the drug will cause these effects to arise more quickly and to be felt more intensely, increasing the risks associated with use. This is not to mention the potential damage done to the user’s nasal passages, sinuses, airways, and oropharynx (i.e., mouth and throat).

Can Molly (MDMA) be Snorted?

Molly (MDMA) is often snorted (or sniffed) and the snorting of it can cause the effects to come on faster and have a shorter, more intense peak as the drug reaches the brain quicker.

Ecstasy is often laced with other drugs. Learn the dangers now.

Side Effects of Snorting Ecstasy

The ecstasy high can be a pleasurable experience for the user—from increased sensory perception and empathic feelings toward others, to feeling energized and happy 1, 2. But this euphoric high has a darker side. Ecstasy side effects range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening, and they vary depending on whether MDMA was combined with other substances and, if so, which ones.

Ecstasy’s side effects include 1, 2, 6:

  • Increased body temperature.
  • Sweating.
  • Teeth grinding.
  • Jaw clenching.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Nausea.

On top of the drug-specific effects, snorting ecstasy can cause other types of damage to the nasal passages and sinus structures. Damage from nasal insufflation of MDMA includes:

  • Irritation of the nasal mucosa.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Impaired sense of smell.
  • Swallowing difficulties.
  • Hole in the nasal septum.

Can Snorting Ecstasy Cause an Overdose?

Many users take ecstasy in a party environment to fuel hours of dancing, often unintentionally neglecting their health needs (e.g., eating and drinking water). MDMA doesn’t make users overdose by drug toxicity. MDMA overdose may occur as a result of several exaggerated physiologic responses that, in turn, impair vital life functions—processes such as heart rate and body temperature can become dangerously elevated and have disastrous results. Combined with poor hydration and diet, these effects can even be life-threatening in extreme situations.

In addition to the risky effects of MDMA, ecstasy pills may have other substances in them that have a whole separate set of dangers. Depending on which substance is mixed with the MDMA, a user may experience an enhancement of MDMA’s effects and/or a slew of other unexpected effects that can have lasting repercussions.

MDMA’s life-threatening effects include 1, 6, 7:

  • Dangerously high body temperature.
  • Overconsumption of water leading to dangerously low sodium levels (hyponatremia).
  • Cerebral edema (brain swelling).
  • Cardiovascular failure.
  • Stroke.
  • Seizures.
  • Liver or kidney failure.

One major risk with heavy ecstasy use is the development of serotonin syndrome 8. Serotonin syndrome results from the user’s brain flooding with serotonin, resulting in 8:

  • Restlessness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Overactive reflexes.
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate) and hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Coordination problems.

The combination of dangerous side effects and the potential for developing serotonin syndrome can put users at lethal risk when snorting the drug.

Signs of Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy addiction can take a major toll on a person’s life. Addiction is a long-standing struggle for many people, and knowing the signs of it may save someone’s life.

Some signs of ecstasy addiction include 2, 9, 10:

  • Taking more ecstasy or taking it for longer than intended.
  • Having the desire to cut down or stop using, but being unsuccessful at doing so.
  • Spending a lot of time trying to get or use ecstasy.
  • Craving ecstasy.
  • Ecstasy use interfering with work, social, or family responsibilities.
  • Continuing to use ecstasy despite negative life consequences related to use.
  • Depression when unable to use ecstasy.
  • Lower appetite.
  • Anxiety.
  • Problems with sleeping.
  • Lower sex drive.
  • Memory problems.
  • Cognitive performance deficits.

Getting Help for Ecstasy Addiction

If you are concerned that yourself or someone you care about may be struggling with ecstasy abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Call our addiction recovery hotline at to speak with a treatment support specialist about finding help today.

Check if your insurance covers MDMA addiction treatment

Learn more about insurance coverage levels from some household health brand names for MDMA addiction rehab and treatment:

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Lauren Brande, MA, has dedicated her life to psychological research. She started off her career with a scholarship from the Western Psychological Association for her undergraduate work in perceptual processing. In 2014, she achieved her master of arts in psychology from Boston University, harnessing a particular interest in the effects that drugs and trauma have on the functioning brain.

She believes that all research should be accessible and digestible, and her passion fuels her desire to share important scientific findings to improve rehabilitation.

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