Sep 22 2013

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Myths about MDMA: What is “molly”?


Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services (AODS)
Department of Health Promotion & Education
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What is “Molly”?

“Molly” and “Ecstasy” are slang terms for MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. MDMA is a synthetic drug that has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. “Molly” was originally used to denote pure MDMA, but this is no longer the case. Currently, “Molly” is often a ‘mystery powder’ in capsule or tablet form that may contain any number of substances (i.e. methamphetamine, ketamine, caffeine or amphetamine) either alone or combined with MDMA. Other names for MDMA are “XTC,” “E,” “X” or “Beans.”


What are the effects of “Molly”?

One “hit” of MDMA may last 3-6 hours. Often ingested orally, MDMA takes approximately 15 minutes to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. After 30-45 minutes, the drug is at peak level and the drug’s “high” is experienced. MDMA targets neurotransmitter systems in the brain and causes the release of large amounts of serotonin, a chemical that influences mood, appetite and sleep. As a result, initial effects may lead individuals who use MDMA to feel very hyper or alert, and some may lose a sense of time and alterations in perception such as an enhanced sense of touch.
Others may encounter negative effects, including bouts of sweating or chills, and feeling faint or dizzy. Due to the surge and ultimate depletion of serotonin in the brain, psychological effects associated with MDMA use – confusion, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, paranoia or drug cravings – can last for weeks after ingestion.
What are the risks of “Molly”?
MDMA can be extremely dangerous in high doses, in small and repeated doses taken within a short period of time, or when combined with other illicit drugs. MDMA interferes with the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, resulting in sharp increases in body temperature (hyperthermia) and potentially leading to liver, kidney, and cardiovascular failure. Other effects can include tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramps, and blurred vision.
Research indicates that chronic use of MDMA can produce brain damage in humans. Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may increase the risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory and learning.



  • Drug Enforcement Administration, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine(http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/mdma/mdma.pdf)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Facts: MDMA (“Ecstasy” or “Molly”)(http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/mdma_1.pdf)
  • Tufts University Department of Alcohol & Health Education (http://ase.tufts.edu/healthEd)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.harvarddapa.org/2013/09/what-is-molly/

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