MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, also known as “Molly,” is a synthetic drug that has hallucinogenic and stimulant properties. It usually comes in a crystalline white powder or capsule that can be ingested, snorted or swallowed by users. Molly is considered to be the “pure” form of MDMA, in comparison to its Ecstasy counterpart. However, even powder and capsules sold as pure MDMA can contain cheaper substitutes such as bath salts and other drugs, which can have additional negative consequences on a person’s health.
How does MDMA work?
Once MDMA enters the body, it increases the activity of three main neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals:
- Dopamine plays a major role in the reward system; it is responsible for producing increased energy and euphoria in MDMA users.
- Norepinephrine is associated with the fight-or-flight response; MDMA users may experience increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
- Studies show that MDMA increases serotonin, or 5-HT, release and inhibits its reuptake. Serotonin is associated with mood, appetite and sleep; increased activity of serotonin helps to explain why MDMA users report feeling elevated mood, empathy and emotionally close to other people around them.
The effects of MDMA typically begin 15 minutes to an hour after it enters the body, which could depend on a number of factors, such as whether the person ate a meal that day, and lasts for about three to six hours. Taking MDMA can result in changes in mood, perceptions and memory.
At low doses of the drug, MDMA can lead to pleasant and euphoric effects. People may feel an enhanced sense of well-being, emotional warmth and empathy toward other people. Sensory and time distortions are also common in low to moderate doses of MDMA.
Other short-term effects of MDMA may include:
- Muscle cramping
- Increased blood pressure
- Fast or irregular heart beat
- Kidney or liver damage
- Heart failure
- Problems with temperature regulation
- Hyperthermia (heat-related illness)
- Vision problems (blurred)
- Involuntary jaw clenching
- Teeth grinding
- Sweating and/or chills