Molly, Ecstasy, MDMA: Learn the Differences

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From Miley Cyrus to Hollywood hits, Ecstasy is again making its way to the popular mainstream. But do you know what it is? Do you think Molly, Ecstasy, and MDMA are all the same? Well here’s everything you need to know about one of hottest street drugs out there today.


A synthetic drug, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA, creates both a stimulant effect like an amphetamine, and a psychedelic effect similar to mescaline. It can come as a pill, a tablet, or a capsule form and is most often taken orally.

Originally developed in 1912, MDMA has been used in military tests and in different forms of psychotherapy. In 1985, it was labeled by the FDA as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it holds no medicinal value and has high potential for abuse.

Due to the combination effect of a stimulant and a psychedelic, MDMA has become a popular club drug. It keeps people up, moving, and having a grand old time. The effects last from three to six hours and are caused by an increase in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This increase causes people to feel hyper and experience changes in perception, especially touch. The high levels of serotonin increase the brain’s output of oxytocin, which causes the drug to causes an increase in feelings of love and sexual arousal


Pure MDMA in its crystalline powder form is called Molly, which is short for molecular. It is often sold in capsules and ingested orally. In the UK, pure MDMA is called Mandy.

Popular in raves and clubs, Molly is often used for all night dance parties. This has shown to be problematic in the past, as the drug interferes with how the body regulates temperature and can cause severe overheating and dehydration, especially when people are moving and dancing for hours.

Recently there has been an increase of Molly being sold as pure MDMA, but instead it is MDMA cut with synthetic bath salts, which are known to cause severe negative side effects.


When MDMA is cut with another drug, it’s referred to as Ecstasy. Most often it’s cut with amphetamines or heroin, but can also be seen with cocaine, caffeine, or dextromethorphan (a chemical found in cough syrup).

Depending on what substance the MDMA was cut with, users experience a range of highs, including hyper and talkative, or mellow and low key.

Drug users often use Ecstasy along with other drugs. These include cocaine, GHB, crystal meth, Ketamine, and Viagra. When it’s taken with LSD, many refer to it as candy flipping.

Negative Side Effects

Although Molly and Ecstasy can make you feel great in the moment, users do experience negative side effects. Short term side effects can happen within hours of the high ending up to a few days after use. They include confusion, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Long term MDMA use has shown severe cases of the same, along with trouble with attention and memory.
MDMA, Molly, and Ecstasy tend to be common terms used to describe the drug. There are also regional terms such as “E,” “Eve,” or “rolls,” which stems from the term of taking Ecstasy, or “rolling.”



Molly Carter
Molly Carter
Molly is a freelance writer who talks about everything and anything from addiction, to sex. to skinning a deer. You can find her at, or Facebook.