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What is Molly?


More commonly known as MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or Molly for short, is the active ingredient in the party drug Ecstasy. Created by German chemist Anton Köllisch in 1912, Molly was originally known as Methylsafrylamin, and was fashioned as a parent compound to synthesize medications that control bleeding.


Molly became popular in the early 1970s after pharmacologist Alexander Shulgin resynthesized the chemical for recreational use, despite the fact that Molly had not undergone any formal clinical trials nor received approval from local drug regulation agencies. One of those users, psychotherapist Leo Zeff, began giving patients Molly thanks to its anxiety-alleviating properties. Patients that used Molly exposed their deepest fears and challenges at rapid speed, leading to almost 4,000 other psychotherapists also using the drug on their patients.

Molly quickly moved from doctors’ offices to the dance floor, and became the drug of choice for adolescents and young adults involved in the European party scene, also known as raves, because of its stimulatory and hallucinogenic effect.

In 1985, it became one of the illegal drugs placed into Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

Drug Effects

Molly has the ability to produce euphoria and stimulate physical energy, along with increasing feelings of intimacy and emotional warmth with others. Bonds with people tend to feel more intense while using thus drug. Users of Molly tend to feel all is well with the world. The carefree feeling that consumes Molly users disconnects them from the world, often putting them in danger if they’re thrust into situations where clarity and decision making are important for survival.

Once Molly is swallowed, it takes around 15 minutes for the drug to enter the bloodstream then reach the brain. When consumed, MDMA binds to brain neurochemistry-altering serotonin transporters. Molly increases the activity of three neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that regulate different processes:

  • Serotonin: plays a role in controlling mood, sexual activity, aggression, sleep, and feeling pain
  • Dopamine: helps to control movement, emotions, motivation, and pleasure sensations
  • Norepinephrine: increases blood pressure and heart rate

When these neurotransmitters are interfered with, it can result in intense, although temporary, heightened perceptions, reduced appetite, elevated mood, and bursts of energy.

After prolonged use of Molly, it’s common for the brain to become dependent on Molly in order to experience positive feelings and a mental high, giving Molly the potential to become highly addictive.

Appearance and Cost

Unlike Ecstasy, which is frequently combined with other, potentially more dangerous synthetic drugs like speed, ketamine, bath salts (synthetic cathinones), or even LSD, and other fillers in pill form, Molly comes in pure crystalline powder form. The crystal drug is often ingested in a powder form or in capsules, and is available illegally for $30 to $50 a dose depending on quality and potency. The crystal form may be more pure than the pill form, but there is no guarantee, and there could still be other crystalline powders mixed in. There is no really telling whether any form of ecstasy is a purer form than the other.

Side-Effects of Molly

Although long-term effects of using Molly are still yet to be determined, it’s in no way considered a safe drug in the health community, as the short-term effects of the recreational drug can be dangerous. Because Molly interferes with the body’s natural limitations, users can over-exert themselves to the point of blacking out, passing out, severe dehydration or a dangerous spike in body temperature. If a large amount of water is consumed to counteract the dehydration, sodium levels can drop dangerously low, resulting in convulsions, delirium, and confusion. Interfering with the body’s natural regulators can also lead to rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and blood vessel constriction. Various studies have proven that Molly use leads to risky sexual behaviors, fascinations, and emotionally-charged memories as well.

Other possible adverse effects in users of this drug are these:

  • Dry mouth/thirst
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling cold
  • Heavy legs
  • Jaw clenching
  • Blurred vision, eye wiggles (leading to distorted perception)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate (potential heart failure with prolonged use)
  • Sexual arousal (leading to promiscuous behavior which may spread STIs)
  • Restless legs

Molly Withdrawal Symptoms

Because the production of Molly has no government regulation, the chemical compounds can vary drastically, influencing to the types of withdrawal symptoms one may experience.

MDMA itself is not a physically addictive substance, but psychological addictions are very real, leading to a drug craving and other signs of addiction.

Most users coming down from a Molly dose often feel anxious and fatigued. Another common effect is severe mood swings, leading to severe depression and confusion, making users fragile and unpredictable. Here are a few other effects one may experience depending on the type and amount of Molly that was consumed:

  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems

For those addicted to Molly, professional treatment for withdrawals is highly recommended.

Related: Decoding Drug Slang