Molly vs. Ecstasy: What’s the Difference?

Molly vs. Ecstasy: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: October 25, 2022

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Many drugs are associated with the party scene, including ecstasy. This type of drug produces euphoric feelings and greatly enhanced sensations in the body, particularly when it comes to touch. However, ecstasy isn’t the only name in party drugs: you may have heard of Molly, MDMA and more. One question that people often have about these drugs is, “What is the difference between Molly vs. ecstasy?” Being able to recognize these drugs and what risks they pose is a valuable way of staying safe while partying and getting help if you need it.

What Is Molly?

Molly is a slang term used to refer to the drug MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). This synthetic drug has features of both stimulants and hallucinogens, as it increases energy levels and alters perceptions like the sense of sight. MDMA was introduced as a street drug at the end of the 1960s, and its first detection in forensic laboratories occurred in Chicago in 1970.

More recently, MDMA has become a popular party drug in the United States, commonly used as part of the nightclub scene. While MDMA has historically been referred to as ecstasy by recreational users, people have started using the term “Molly” to refer to this drug in recent years. Molly stands for molecular, and it implies that this form of the drug contains pure MDMA. In that sense, the difference between Molly vs. ecstasy is that Molly is thought to be a more pure version of MDMA. Still, both drugs contain the active chemical MDMA. 

MDMA Street Names 

The most common street names for MDMA are ecstasy and Molly. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), people may also refer to this drug by many other street names, such as:

  • XTC
  • Beans
  • Adam
  • Biscuit
  • Lover’s Speed
  • Clarity
  • Disco Biscuit 
  • Eve
  • E
  • Hug Drug
  • Peace 

What Does Ecstasy Look Like?

One difference between Molly vs. ecstasy is that they can look a little different. While Molly usually comes in powder or capsule form, ecstasy usually comes as little pills of various different colors. These pills can often be confused for candy, and they typically have different logos or brand names stamped on them. 

What Drugs Are in Ecstasy? 

The primary drug in ecstasy is the synthetic chemical 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), which has properties that are similar to hallucinogens and stimulants. While this is the main drug believed to be in ecstasy, the reality is that ecstasy tablets can also be laced with other substances. 

For example, a recent study found that a significant portion of MDMA users tested positive for butylone and methylone, which are commonly known as “bath salts.” Other substances, referred to as “novel psychoactive substances,” were also detected in hair samples of ecstasy users. This suggests that ecstasy is often laced with other drugs, which presents additional risks to MDMA users. Of those who tested positive for bath salts and other novel stimulants, nearly half were unaware of having used those substances. 

Differences Between Molly and Ecstasy

While the underlying chemical in both ecstasy and Molly is the same, the two drugs do differ in some ways. On its own, MDMA is a white powder or crystal. In pressed tablet form, MDMA is known as ecstasy; in a “pure” powder form, it’s referred to as Molly. Back in the early 2000s, ecstasy developed a bad reputation as being impure and laced with other components. This sparked a rebranding of the drug, which is how Molly came about. The name Molly is short for “molecular” and represents a variation of MDMA. This drug is typically contained within a gel capsule that users can swallow. 

Since Molly can be placed in a capsule without having to be cut with other chemicals or drugs, it is often considered a more pure form of MDMA than ecstasy. On the other hand, ecstasy is usually combined with fillers that help press and bind it into a pill form. As such, ecstasy is typically accompanied by other chemicals. Even though Molly may have a reputation for not being cut with other components in any way, that is usually not the case. Studies have found that the majority of Molly sold on the streets is not actually pure MDMA. 

History of MDMA

According to researchers, MDMA was used as a psychiatric drug between 1977 and 1985 before it was made illegal. Members of a group called the Association for the Responsible Use of Psychedelic Agents promoted its use for helping people cope with criticism and express their emotions. Therapists held “MDMA sessions” In which patients took MDMA and processed their feelings. 

Several psychotherapists and psychiatrists utilized MDMA in professional practice and reported what they found through case studies, and they reported on case studies of their success. Commonly reported benefits of MDMA included reduction in fear and anxiety. One study in 1986 with MDMA, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 1986, found that patients who took MDMA did not experience any serious side effects, and they enjoyed benefits like increased self-esteem, improved relationships and enhanced communication abilities. 

MDMA Therapy 

Today, trials are underway to assess the effects of MDMA on mental health conditions like PTSD. A recent study found that MDMA-assisted therapy significantly improved symptoms among patients with severe PTSD. In addition, no patients experienced any serious side effects. Keep in mind that clinical studies with MDMA are monitored by professionals and include doses of MDMA that are tested for purity. This means these MDMA samples are free from bath salts or other substances, which increases the safety of patients in clinical trials.

Effects and Health Risks of Molly and Ecstasy 

While there are some subtle differences between Molly vs. ecstasy, both drugs create health risks because each one contains MDMA. High doses of MDMA can be dangerous, as they can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature and lead to overheating. In some cases, this can cause liver, kidney or heart failure, which can be fatal. MDMA abuse is also linked with risky sexual behaviors, which can increase the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. 

Other short-term physical and mental health effects of Molly and ecstasy include:

  • Problems with memory and attention
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Impulsive and aggressive behavior
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and chills 

Molly and ecstasy may also be laced with other chemicals, including bath salts. Bath salt side effects can include serious symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, violent behavior and panic attacks. These drugs can also increase heart rate and blood pressure levels and lead to dehydration and kidney failure. 

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Molly and Ecstasy Addiction 

Beyond the health risks that come with Molly and ecstasy, animal research suggests that MDMA can be addictive. While ecstasy and Molly may produce feelings of extreme pleasure, people who use them on a regular basis can develop an addiction that can be extremely difficult to recover from alone. People who develop an addiction to ecstasy or Molly continue to seek these drugs in an effort to replicate the same feelings of pleasure. Over time, more and more of the drug is needed to produce the same effects, leading to a severe addiction. 

Some users also experience withdrawal side effects when they stop using MDMA, such as fatigue, reduced appetite, difficulty with concentration and depression. This adds additional evidence that MDMA can be addictive. People who develop an addiction to Molly or ecstasy often need treatment to stop using these drugs. Fortunately, MDMA addiction treatment is available at professional rehab facilities throughout Ohio

Stimulant Addiction Treatment

Recovering from drug addiction can be extremely difficult without professional support. This is why those struggling with addiction often find that it’s more effective to seek ecstasy addiction treatment at a reputable drug rehab center. In a rehab treatment facility, patients are able to safely and effectively detox from drugs in a medically supervised environment. In this setting, medical professionals can help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which reduces the risk of relapse.

Following detox, patients should participate in a customized treatment program developed just for them, which can include counseling, group therapy sessions and medication therapy. With the right Ohio addiction treatment resources, those addicted to ecstasy or Molly can successfully recover from their addiction and go on to lead normal, healthy lives.

For those in the Central Ohio area, The Recovery Village Columbus offers a full continuum of addiction services, ranging from medical detox to outpatient care. Our inpatient facility features a wide variety of amenities, including an art studio, a yoga room and two gyms, so you will be able to enjoy various activities during your stay in treatment. If you’re ready to take the first step toward recovery, contact us today to learn more about MDMA addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation. 


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