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What is Molly: Effects Explained by Canadian Centre for Addictions
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What is Molly: Effects Explained by Canadian Centre for Addictions

Written by Seth Fletcher on December 4, 2023
Medical editor Dr. Chintan Shah
Last update: May 13, 2024

Molly is a common street name for MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), the active ingredient of ecstasy. A common feature of many parties and raves involving young adults, Molly is manufactured in illegal labs and often cut with other substances that make it unpredictable and dangerous. The drug is often thought to be the pure form of MDMA or ecstasy, but this idea is far from reality. So, what is Molly, and what does it do to you? CCFA explores Molly effects and how to get help for someone dependent or addicted to Molly.

Key Takeaways

  • Molly is a common street name for illegally manufactured and sold MDMA or  ecstasy.
  • The drug is often thought to be a purer form of MDMA and ecstasy, but it is often mixed with other toxic substances.
  • Molly is common in clubs and parties where mostly young people abuse the drug for its stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.
  • Molly abuse can have severe short and long-term health consequences.
  • There is no safe dose of Molly, and even a single use could prove fatal.

What is Molly?

When you hear someone talking about buying or using Molly, they’re usually talking about the powder or crystal form of the illegal drugs MDMA or ecstasy. However, the drug Molly is often not what users think it is. While users expect a pure form of the drug, they’ll usually get a substance mixed with fillers like baking powder, sugar, and soap. The drug is also often mixed with other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and bath salts to increase its potency.

Molly (a short form of molecular) is a stimulant and hallucinogenic drug that provides a euphoric high characterized by feelings of increased energy, emotional warmth, love, and understanding towards other people. The drug intensifies feelings, whether good or bad, and could distort one’s perception of space and time.

Molly’s effects and its relatively low price make it a popular party drug among young adults and rave-goers. The drug can be snorted (Molly powder) or swallowed (Molly pill). When the high from Molly wears off, it gives way to come-down feelings of depression that can last days to weeks. While Molly may have therapeutic potential for treating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is classified as a Schedule I Drug under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  

Molly use leaves unpleasant short and long-term effects and can be fatal even for first-time users. There is no safe dose for Molly, and the best option is to avoid the drug altogether. If you or a loved one is abusing or addicted to Molly, don’t wait to get help. The Canadian Centre for Addictions offers multiple sophisticated drug abuse and addiction treatment. Our team of addiction experts is always ready to assess your situation and guide you towards lasting recovery.

How is It Different From MDMA and Ecstasy

Molly is often used interchangeably for MDMA and ecstasy, but in reality, they are three different substances. MDMA is the short name for 3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is a popular drug at clubs, raves, and music festivals, which energizes the body and heightens sensory enjoyment. Pure MDMA comes as a white powder or in crystalline form.

Ecstasy and Molly are two different forms of MDMA. Ecstasy is often recognized as the pressed tablet form of MDMA, but it has a reputation for being mixed with other substances to retain its shape and decrease production costs. These substances can cause the drug to have undesirable effects.

Molly, the drug was introduced as a purer form of ecstasy, which is not mixed with other substances. It comes in powder or crystal form, sometimes in capsules for ingestion. However, Molly is not often as pure as people assume, and some substances marketed as Molly may not even contain any MDMA.

How Does It Work?

Molly produces its effects by affecting three main neurotransmitters – dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Dopamine regulates pleasure and motivation, while norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Serotonin regulates appetite, mood, and sleep and influences hormones responsible for arousal and trust.

When you ingest Molly, it escalates the activities of these neurotransmitters, producing the associated high and increased energy. The effects of MDMA kick in about 30 to 45 minutes after ingestion and peak about 15 to 30 minutes after. By causing the brain to release large amounts of these chemicals, Molly causes neurotransmitter depletion responsible for the “crash” or come-down effects experienced after the euphoria wears off. The euphoric effects of Molly may last between three and six hours.

What Does Molly Feel Like?

Molly is a hallucinogen and a stimulant which produces a high that simulates an out-of-body experience. Users tend to feel alert, energized, confident, and trusting. They also feel more love, empathy, and an increased connection to themselves and others. The comedown effects of Molly produce feelings of irritability, fatigue, depression, loneliness, aggression, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

Effects of Molly

A person who takes Molly may experience a range of short and long-term effects due to the drug’s stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term effects of Molly one may experience while under the influence of the drug include:

  • Paranoia/Anxiety
  • Teeth-clenching
  • Distortion of time perception
  • Elevated blood pressure and body temperature
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sleeplessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cold chills
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo/fainting
  • A false sense of confidence leading to reckless decisions like driving aggressively

Most of these short-term effects will wear off after the drug runs its course, usually leading to a come-down.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term use of Molly may lead to lasting side effects on the mind and body, including:

Diminished Neurotransmitter Production

While Molly causes an initial spike in the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, it leads to a reduction in production after the euphoria wears off. In the long term, this can lead to permanently low levels of neurotransmitter production, triggering depression, poor self-esteem, and potential drug abuse and addiction.

Brain Structure Changes

Long-term Molly use may cause brain structure changes, particularly in brain areas responsible for learning, memory, emotions, or information processing. These changes can affect users’ long-term emotional states, leading to depression, anxiety, and paranoia. They can also lead to memory impairments and learning difficulties.


The serotonin that comes from using Molly can lead to serotonin syndrome (excess serotonin in the body), which increases the risk of seizures and convulsions. Combining Molly with antidepressants may also increase the risk of seizures as these medications also increase serotonin levels.

Cardiovascular Issues

Molly increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and regular long-term use can trigger heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems due to the heart’s increased oxygen requirements.

Kidney Failure

Molly’s stimulant action can cause urine retention, putting pressure on the kidneys and causing potential failure.

Liver Disease

Long-term Molly use releases toxins that overwhelm and inflame the liver, causing an increased likelihood of hepatitis, scarring, cirrhosis, and liver failure.


Molly affects the brain’s ability to regulate body temperature and can lead to hyperthermia, especially in situations where the user partakes in physical activities like dancing at a party or rave. The spike in body temperature from Molly can lead to organ failure and death. Most deaths from Molly use occur due to hyperthermia and severe dehydration from dancing all night without fluid intake.

Withdrawal from Molly

Molly withdrawal refers to the adverse effects that come from the crash or comedown after the high from the drug wears off. Prolonged Molly use causes the brain to become dependent on the drug to function. During withdrawal, the brain tries to adjust to functioning without the drug, leading to unpleasant withdrawal effects. Withdrawal starts a few days after the last use and may last weeks to months. The intensity and duration of Molly withdrawal depend on the following:

  • The frequency and duration of drug use
  • Metabolism and overall health status
  • Age
  • Purity of the drug used
  • Genetic factors
  • Tolerance
  • Gender
  • Use of other drugs
  • Presence or pre-existing mental health disorders

The withdrawal symptoms of Molly are mainly psychological and include:

  • Cravings for the drug
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in self-perception
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of appetite

Some symptoms can be intense and cause the user to seek out the drug again, leading to relapse and perpetuating the cycle of drug abuse and addiction. Many people undergoing withdrawal will require medical detox and rehab to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Who is More Prone to Using Molly?

Molly is abused by individuals of all demographics. However, it is a club drug and is more likely to be used by young people aged 18 to 25 at raves, parties, and other social gatherings. Members of this age group are likely to be exposed to the drug via their peers and social networks. Other risk factors for Molly use include:

Drug Use History

Individuals with a previous history of abusing other substances like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pills may be more likely to abuse Molly.

Existing Mental Health Conditions

Individuals with existing health conditions like depression or PTSD may attempt to self-medicate with drugs like Molly.

Molly Abuse and Addiction Treatment

It’s often difficult to determine whether an individual is addicted to Molly as the drug is often mixed with other substances. Research on the addictive potential of the drug is also not definitive. Its stimulant properties are similar to those of narcotics like cocaine but may not be as potent.

The risk of addiction varies among users, but there is undoubtedly a real potential for physical and psychological dependence, meaning that heavy users crave the drug and experience adverse withdrawal effects when they stop using the drug.

If you or a loved one is dealing with Molly abuse and addiction, it’s crucial to get professional help. Chances are you or your loved one may be abusing other substances as well, so only an expert may be able to help you understand the full scope of your addiction.

Treatment of Molly addiction involves medical detox and withdrawal symptom management to reduce drug cravings and prevent relapse.Depending on the individual’s circumstances, Molly, MDMA, or ecstasy addiction treatment will involve inpatient or outpatient rehab and specific therapies to help them become and remain sober.

When to Consult a Medical Professional

All use of Molly for recreational purposes is ill-advised and may lead to unintended short and long-term adverse consequences. However, it’s crucial to consult a medical professional about your use of Molly if you notice the following:

  • Trying and failing to stop using Molly
  • Using Molly in steadily increasing amounts than intended
  • Experiencing intense cravings for Molly
  • Spending a great deal of time obtaining and recovering from Molly’s effects
  • Continued Molly use despite its physical and psychological health consequences
  • Using Molly even when it’s affecting your work, school, or other activities
  • Giving up important activities or activities you once enjoyed to use Molly
  • Using Molly when it’s affecting your relationship with friends and loved ones
  • Engaging in risky activities like driving, having unprotected sex when under the influence of Molly
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or cease using Molly.


Molly is marketed as a harmless, fun drug, but it’s not as benign as it seems. Drug abuse and addiction can have severe implications for your health and well-being. It’s crucial to seek medical help once you think your Molly use has become a problem. If you’re unsure what to do, speaking to someone is an excellent first step.CCFA helps people understand their addictions and find healthier coping strategies available by engaging them in one-on-one counselling with certified counsellors, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals. Call us today at 1-855-499-9446, and someone will speak to you about Molly abuse and addiction.


How pure is Molly?

Molly is sold illegally as a pure form of MDMA or ecstasy. However, most Molly is manufactured in illegal laboratories and mixed with other substances to reduce costs. It is quite challenging to find pure Molly on the market.

What’s Molly called in England?

Molly is often called “Mandy” in England. The drug also goes by other street names like Lover’s Speed, Clarity, Adam, Beans, E, Go, Eve, and XTC.

How long does it take for Molly to leave the body?

Molly remains in the body for 24 to 72 hours but can stay up to five days. How long it takes for Molly to leave the body generally depends on several factors, including:
● The amount of drug taken and the time of their last dose
● Their metabolic rate
● Their use of other medications
● The drug’s purity
● When they had their last meal
● Their overall health

Can you become dependent on Molly?

Yes. Molly can lead to psychological or physical dependence, meaning that users can develop tolerance and will experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms without the drug.

What are the risks of using Molly when pregnant or breastfeeding?

Using Molly comes with severe health risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Expectant mothers using Molly pills may experience the following:
● Confusion
● Depression
● Anxiety
● Drug cravings
● Sleep problems
● High blood pressure
● Elevated body temperature
These symptoms can affect their ability to care for their pregnancy. Molly also gets transferred into breast milk, and this can adversely affect the baby, leading to poor feeding and insomnia.

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

Dr. Chintan is a Board Certified Family Physician with an interest in holistic and preventative care as well as healthcare systems. Credentialed Physician with both American & Canadian Board of Family Medicine. Adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Telemedicine clinician.

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