Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception. It was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties (“raves”). Because the drug now affects a broader range of people, commonly called Ecstasy or Molly. Its chemical structure is similar to amphetamines, such as methamphetamine and a hallucinogen called mescaline. Mescaline is the active ingredient in the drug peyote.
The unique chemical structure of MDMA causes both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects, such as bursts of energy, changes to how time is perceived, and sensitivity to touch. Ecstasy and Molly come in pills, capsules, and powder. They’re well-known club drugs that are popular at music festivals.
In 2016, an estimated 2.4 million people reported using ecstasy, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in September 2017.
How Do People Use MDMA?
People who use MDMA usually take it as a capsule or tablet, though some swallow it liquid or snort the powder. The popular nickname Molly (slang for “molecular”) often refers to the supposedly “pure” crystalline powder form of MDMA, usually sold in capsules. However, people who purchase powder or capsules sold as Molly often actually get other drugs such as synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”) instead. In addition, some people take MDMA in combination with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana.
What’s The Difference Between Ecstasy, MDMA, and Molly?
In the past, Molly referred to a more pure form of MDMA than ecstasy. But pure forms of MDMA are rare in the United States. Today, Molly and ecstasy may be used interchangeably as street names for MDMA. Most people who buy the drug know it’s mixed with other unknown substances. Studies have found that ecstasy tablets contain multiple substances in addition to MDMA. Some of these substances included caffeine, ketamine, methamphetamine, PCP, cocaine, and heroin. Ecstasy is rarely used alone. Most individuals combine it with alcohol, marijuana, or other substances. Mixing Molly with other drugs can exacerbate the effects of both substances.
The Effects Of Ecstasy, Molly, and MDMA
People use ecstasy to feel happy, energetic, and disconnected from reality. Others use it to feel the drug’s hallucinatory effects. It can change how people perceive time. It also affects vision and hearing.
Side Effects Of MDMA
Many people use ecstasy in risky situations, such as in dance clubs or at music festivals. They’re more likely to be malnourished, dehydrated, and sleep-deprived in these settings. Using Molly in risky situations also increases the likelihood of overdosing.
Effects Of MDMA
A person may experience the intoxicating effects of MDMA within 45 minutes or so after taking a single dose. Those effects include an enhanced sense of well-being, increased extroversion, emotional warmth, empathy toward others, and a willingness to discuss emotionally charged memories. In addition, people report enhanced sensory perception as a hallmark of the MDMA experience. However, MDMA can also cause several acute adverse health effects. For example, while fatal overdoses on MDMA are rare, they can potentially be life-threatening—with symptoms including high blood pressure (hypertension), faintness, panic attacks, and in severe cases, a loss of consciousness and seizures.
Recreational use of MDMA is often characterized by repeated drug taking over several days (binges), followed by periods of no drug-taking. In one animal study, this pattern of use produced irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart damage. In addition, in the week following the use of the drug, many people report depression, impaired attention and memory, anxiety, aggression, and irritability.
Effects Of Regular MDMA Use
Sleep disturbances, lack of appetite, concentration difficulties, depression, heart disease, and impulsivity have been associated with regular use of MDMA. In addition, heavy MDMA use over two years is associated with decreased cognitive function. Some of these disturbances may not be directly attributable to MDMA. Still, they may be related to other drugs often combined with MDMA, such as cocaine, alcohol, or marijuana, or to contaminants commonly found in MDMA tablets.
What is Molly? And How It Affects The Brain
MDMA increases the activity of three brain chemicals
- Dopamine: produces increased energy/activity and acts in the reward system to reinforce behaviors.
- Norepinephrine: increases heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with heart and blood vessel problems.
- Serotonin: affects mood, appetite, sleep, and other functions. It also triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal and trust. Unfortunately, the release of large amounts of serotonin likely causes the emotional closeness, elevated mood, and empathy felt by those who use MDMA.
Other Health Effects
- Muscle Cramping
- Involuntary Teeth Clenching
- Blurred Vision
MDMA’s effects last about 3 to 6 hours, although many users take a second dose as the effects of the first dose begin to fade. Over the week following moderate use of the drug, a person may experience:
- Impulsiveness and Aggression
- Sleep Problems
- Memory and Attention Problems
- Decreased Appetite
- Decreased Interest in and pleasure from sex
Some of these effects may be due to the combined use of MDMA with other drugs, especially marijuana.
What is Molly And Overdose Symptoms
Overdosing on MDMA is rarely deadly, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse but it can cause serious health problems, including fever, liver damage, kidney problems, and cardiovascular failure. Other signs of an MDMA overdose include panic attacks, seizures, and faintness. In addition, mixing Molly with alcohol or other drugs increases the risks of severe side effects, such as a dangerous rise in body temperature.
How Long Does Ecstasy Last?
The duration of effects varies depending on how a person uses the drug. Unlike other stimulants, ecstasy is most often swallowed, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. When people eat the drug, they usually feel the effects within 30 to 45 minutes. These direct effects tend to persist for between four and six hours. It can feel some minor effects for up to two days. MDMA can stay in your system for more than 40 hours, and most drug tests can detect MDMA in the urine two to four days after last use. Repeatedly using the drug can increase the amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize it, increasing the potency and duration of the effects.
What is Molly? And is MDMA Addictive?
While the drug appears to have addictive properties, research hasn’t concluded how addictive ecstasy is. However, it affects the same areas of the brain as other addictive drugs, according to NIDA. In addition, animal studies show that MDMA causes drug-seeking behavior, but animals seek it less often than they desire other addictive drugs. Some evidence indicates that MDMA affects parts of the brain in charge of self-control, pleasure, and reward.
Unfortunately, researchers know little about how MDMA affects the brain. As a result, their understanding of how other drugs lead to addiction is broader. On the other hand, people who use Molly have reported classic symptoms of addiction, including cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms, and some continue to use the drug despite negative consequences.
What is Molly and What is the Addiction Treatment?
There are no specific medical treatments for MDMA addiction. Consequently, some people seeking treatment for MDMA addiction have found behavioral therapy to be helpful.
Treatment For Ecstasy Abuse & Addiction
Ecstasy is one of the less addictive stimulants and one of the more addictive hallucinogens. The number of people who listed ecstasy as their primary reason for going to rehab in 2015 was comparable to the number for all other hallucinogens combined, according to the 2005-2015 Treatment Episode Data Set by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—in contrast, more than 60 times as many people sought treatment for methamphetamine addiction than ecstasy addiction that year.
No medications are available for the treatment of stimulant addiction. That is why NIDA recommends cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups for people struggling to quit Molly.
We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing information about what is Molly and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
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SAMSHA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf
National Institute of Drug Abuse – MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse Research Report: Introduction | NIDA (drugabuse.gov)
SAMSHA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2015_Treatment_Episode_Data_Set_National/2015_Treatment_Episode_Data_Set_National.pdf