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What Is Molly?

What is molly, and how does it affect the brain? Read on to learn more about how to seek recovery for molly addiction at Ripple Ranch.

What Is Molly?

Molly is a nickname for MDMA. Molly is a short form for ''molecular,'' a nickname referring to a form of MDMA usually sold in capsules or bags. However, molly is often anything but pure; it is usually synthetic and mixed with other harmful substances. Certain molly ingredients range from cocaine and synthetic bath salts to methamphetamine. All of these lead to dangerous and potentially harmful side effects. 

Origin of Molly

Molly’s origin is over one hundred years old, as well as other substances in the molly drug classification. In 1912, German scientists originally synthesized MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine) for pharmaceutical purposes. Some of these drugs that we now know as molly were known under the names of MDM, ecstasy, and Adam.1 

MDMA is a stimulant and also a hallucinogen working to produce feelings of increased energy, pleasure, and distorted perceptions of time and senses as well. Some psychiatrists began using MDMA as a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1970s. Pharmaceutical molly and other molly drugs made patients more willing to communicate and participate in psychotherapy. However, in the 1980s, ecstasy and molly became more widely known party drugs and remain that way to this day.2 

Can You Become Addicted to Molly?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has not confirmed that MDMA is addictive. It has, however, been proven to affect most of the same neurotransmitters as other addictive substances in the brain.

It is also not uncommon for users of molly to take a second dose as soon as the first, which can last between three to six hours after the first MDMA dosage begins to fade, meaning that molly has a high potential of being abused.

Molly Use Statistics

A few studies have reported that people who use MDMA often exhibit withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it, and sometimes show signs of addiction as well. Cases of continued use have also been reported despite negative physical and psychological effects.3

Since 1985, under the Controlled Substances Act, MDMA has been classified as a Schedule I substance alongside heroin to have a high potential of abuse and has been proven to serve no legitimate medical purpose.4

In 2020, researchers reported that almost three million people in the USA had used MDMA in the past year. Considering the MDMA usage rate and the fact that researchers have used molly pills in the past, substance abuse, dependence, and tolerance can be considered high risks of MDMA usage.5

How Do People Use Molly?

MDMA is usually swallowed, snorted, or smoked and can also be injected. MDMA is usually sold in tablet form to be taken orally. When swallowed, the effect of the molly drug can develop after about thirty to forty-five minutes. However, snorting molly brings about faster and more intense effects. The process of snorting poses more health risks than swallowing.

How Does Molly Affect the Brain?

  • Dopamine: Dopamine is a chemical messenger and plays a role as the systemic pleasure hormone. Molly stimulates dopamine’s release in the brain and provides an immediate enjoyable feeling. However, long-term exposure to molly can damage dopamine transport systems and lead to dopamine receptor downregulation.
  • Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine is an endogenous substance that increases heart rate and blood flow from the heart and helps provide the body with energy. Synthetic molly causes a massive release of norepinephrine which could lead to euphoria but can also cause panic attacks, anxiety, high blood pressure, and hyperactivity.
  • Serotonin: Serotonin is a systemic neurotransmitter. Serotonin plays a role in mood, emotions, and sexual desire. The body uses serotonin to send messages between nerve cells. Synthetic molly can heighten the concentration of serotonin in the body by increasing its release. However, ingestion of molly in higher doses can cause the release of serotonin in massive amounts, sometimes even in amounts capable enough of damaging the cells responsible for its release.6

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Side Effects of Molly

Following a moderate use of molly pills or other molly substances, an individual will most likely first experience euphoria. This euphoria characterizes a classic “high.” Individuals may also experience side effects like sleep problems, anxiety, and irritability. However, more aggravating and long-lasting side effects result from consuming molly regularly as well. This does not constitute molly that is pure MDMA, but that which has been mixed with other substances that may be dangerous when combined with MDMA.

Meth and molly are often combined and can cause excessive side effects, and in severe cases can lead to death. In addition, recent research shows that meth and molly combined may produce more aggravated negative psychological and neurochemical effects than either drug alone. 7

Indications of Molly Use

Some side effects of molly include:

  1. Dry mouth and excessive thirst
  2. Difficulty concentrating
  3. Anxiety
  4. Lack of appetite
  5. Feeling cold
  6. Jaw clenching
  7. Blurred vision, eye movement, or twitching
  8. Elevated blood pressure
  9. Increased heart rate 

Are Molly and Ecstasy the Same Thing?

The drug called molly and ecstasy are both nicknames and can be used interchangeably to refer to the MDMA. Both molly and ecstasy are known as party drugs because they are commonly used at parties and clubhouses. Molly, synthetic molly, and ecstasy all refer to the same drug; with the real name for molly being MDMA. People intoxicated while on ecstasy also fit the symptoms from being high off of molly as well.

However, considering MDMA as compared to molly, molly can be considered an impure version of MDMA that has been mixed with other substances. This is often done to increase the yield or potency of the molly drug. Not every drug sold as molly is pure MDMA, and as far back as the mid-1990s, a majority of MDMA ecstasy drugs sold were a mixture of meth and molly. Pure molly can only be ascertained by the use of a molly pill identifier. This is why taking molly at parties is dangerous because there is no way to ascertain the pills’ ingredients.

How Long Does Molly Effects Endure? 

The duration of molly’s effects can last about anywhere from six to eight hours. The stronger effects of the drugs subside within three to four hours. After that, however, the negative effects tend to appear and last much longer.

Molly Withdrawal Symptoms

A particular study showed that compared to alcohol withdrawal, people withdrawing from MDMA were more depressed, reclusive, anxious, and irritable. 8 

Although molly is not fully considered addictive, some people have stepped forward seeking help with their use of ecstasy. The following withdrawal symptoms can be noticed in a regular molly party drug user when molly use has been stopped:

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

Treatment Option for Molly Addiction

There are many treatment options in order to help those who are dealing with an ecstasy or molly substance abuse disorder. These options will be detailed below.


Detoxifying molly from the body’s system is the first and most important step to overcoming a molly substance abuse disorder. It involves the gradual and total removal of molly from the body's systemic circulation.

Therapies for Addiction

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatment options for molly addiction. CBT is designed to help modify a patient’s behaviors and expectations. It also helps patients cope with situations that which they are most likely to abuse molly.

Residential Care

Residential care offers long-term caregiving. This gives patients enough time to make long-lasting behavioral changes. Residential treatment centers are sometimes also called rehabilitation homes.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient care involves tending to the patient in a pre-controlled environment with no access to molly substances or other drugs they could abuse. Inpatient care is especially useful for people with advanced addiction and dual diagnoses (mental health issues) who need urgent care.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care is provided outside a residential setting to people who cannot commit fully to living in rehab. Outpatient care is quite holistic, involves all necessary procedures, and helps overcome molly addiction.

Support Groups

Support groups refer to groups of people with common experiences and concerns who can help each other through encouragement. Support groups often act as aftercare or follow-up treatment programs that provide patients with reinforcement of newly learned coping skills.

Get Help for Molly Addiction at Ripple Ranch

At Ripple Ranch, our experts are ready to help you with any more information you need on molly addiction and treatment options. We are dedicated to providing evidence-based care geared towards detoxification and addiction recovery. All our services are provided in a safe, loving environment with medical experts that can help you overcome molly substance dependence and addiction one step at a time. 

For more information on molly, molly substance dependence, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and the treatment options available at Ripple Ranch, please get in touch with us today.