- MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse
- How do people use MDMA?
- How does MDMA affect the brain?
- What are other health effects of MDMA?
- Is MDMA addictive?
- How can people get treatment for addiction to MDMA?
- Learn More
- Mephedrone | FRANK
- By swallowing it in ‘bombs’
- By taking capsules and pills
- By injecting it
MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse
3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
MDMA was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties («raves»), but the drug now affects a broader range of people who more commonly call the drug Ecstasy or Molly.
How do people use MDMA?
People who use MDMA usually take it as a capsule or tablet, though some swallow it in liquid form or snort the powder.
The popular nickname Molly (slang for «molecular») often refers to the supposedly «pure» crystalline powder form of MDMA, usually sold in capsules.
However, people who purchase powder or capsules sold as Molly often actually get other drugs such as synthetic cathinones («bath salts») instead (see «Added Risk of MDMA»).
Some people take MDMA in combination with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana.
How does MDMA affect the brain?
MDMA increases the activity of three brain chemicals:
- Dopamine—produces increased energy/activity and acts in the reward system to reinforce behaviors
- Norepinephrine—increases heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with heart and blood vessel problems
- Serotonin—affects mood, appetite, sleep, and other functions. It also triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal and trust. The release of large amounts of serotonin ly causes the emotional closeness, elevated mood, and empathy felt by those who use MDMA.
Other health effects include:
- muscle cramping
- involuntary teeth clenching
- blurred vision
MDMA's effects last about 3 to 6 hours, although many users take a second dose as the effects of the first dose begin to fade. Over the course of the week following moderate use of the drug, a person may experience:
- impulsiveness and aggression
- sleep problems
- memory and attention problems
- decreased appetite
- decreased interest in and pleasure from sex
It's possible that some of these effects may be due to the combined use of MDMA with other drugs, especially marijuana.
What are other health effects of MDMA?
High doses of MDMA can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature. This can lead to a spike in body temperature that can occasionally result in liver, kidney, or heart failure or even death.
In addition, because MDMA can promote trust and closeness, its use—especially combined with sildenafil (Viagra®)—may encourage unsafe sexual behavior. This increases people's risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
Read more about drug use and HIV/AIDS in DrugFacts: HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse
Read more about drug use and hepatitis.
Adding to MDMA's risks is that pills, capsules, or powders sold as Ecstasy and supposedly «pure» Molly may contain other drugs instead of or in addition to MDMA.
Much of the Molly seized by the police contains additives such as cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, over-the-counter cough medicine, or synthetic cathinones («bath salts»). These substances may be extremely dangerous if the person does not know what he or she is taking. They may also be dangerous when combined with MDMA.
People who purposely or unknowingly combine such a mixture with other substances, such as marijuana and alcohol, may be putting themselves at even higher risk for harmful health effects.
Is MDMA addictive?
Research results vary on whether MDMA is addictive. Experiments have shown that animals will self-administer MDMA—an important indicator of a drug’s abuse potential—although to a lesser degree than some other drugs such as cocaine.
Some people report signs of addiction, including the following withdrawal symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- trouble concentrating
MDMA was first used in the 1970s as an aid in psychotherapy (mental disorder treatment using «talk therapy»). The drug did not have the support of clinical trials (studies using humans) or approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1985, The U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) labeled MDMA as an illegal drug with no recognized medicinal use. However, some researchers remain interested in its value in psychotherapy when given to patients under carefully controlled conditions.
MDMA is currently in clinical trials as a possible treatment aid for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); for anxiety in terminally ill patients; and for social anxiety in autistic adults. Recently, the FDA gave MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD a Breakthrough Therapy designation.
More information on MDMA research can be found by contacting sponsors of various MDMA studies listed on clinicaltrials.gov.
How can people get treatment for addiction to MDMA?
There are no specific medical treatments for MDMA addiction. Some people seeking treatment for MDMA addiction have found behavioral therapy to be helpful. Scientists need more research to determine how effective this treatment option is for addiction to MDMA.
- 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception. It is chemically similar to stimulants and hallucinogens.
- MDMA is commonly called Ecstasy or Molly.
- People who use MDMA typically take it as a capsule or tablet. Many people take it in combination with other drugs.
- MDMA acts by increasing the activity of three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
- Effects include increased energy, distorted perception, involuntary teeth clenching, dangerously high body temperature, and depression.
- Many people are unaware that Ecstasy and supposedly «pure» Molly also often contain not only pure MDMA but other drugs that may be particularly dangerous when mixed with MDMA.
- Research results vary on whether MDMA is addictive. Some people report signs of addiction.
- Some people seeking treatment for MDMA addiction have found behavioral therapy to be helpful. There are no specific medical treatments for MDMA addiction.
For more information about MDMA, visit:
This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NIDA. 2020, June 15. MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
NIDA. «MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts.» National Institute on Drug Abuse, 15 Jun. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
NIDA. MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly. June 15, 2020
Mephedrone | FRANK
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A powerful stimulant that’s often compared to drugs cocaine and ecstasy
- A very fine white powder
- A very fine off-white or yellowish powder
Mephedrone was first sold over the internet as an alternative to drugs speed, ecstasy and cocaine. Dealers sold the drug as ‘plant food’ or ‘bath salts’ and labelled it ‘not for human consumption’ to get around the law.
People have compared the smell to cat pee and exhaust fumes, and say that it tastes foul and metallic.
Snorting is the most common way of taking mephedrone.
By swallowing it in ‘bombs’
Some people wrap the powder in a cigarette paper and swallow it (known as ‘bombing’).
By taking capsules and pills
It can also be found in capsules and tablets, but this is much less common.
By injecting it
Injecting mephedrone, as with other stimulants, is very risky because of the fast-acting, intensity of the hit. Users often feel the need to redose too, which can result in serious injecting-related injuries as well as overdose.
Mephedrone is often described as being a mix between speed, ecstasy and cocaine.
Taking mephedrone can make you:
- very affectionate towards the people around you
- full of energy
- very sensitive to touch and sexusally aroused
It can also make you:
- on edge
- feel your heart is racing or not beating properly (heart palpitations)
- very hot
- urgently need to poo lots
- grind your teeth (gurn)
Mephedrone is ly to make people:
- very confident
- full of energy
- keen to dance
- very affectionate towards the people around them (this is sometimes called being ‘loved up’)
People high on mephedrone can also be:
- over confident
- on edge
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size and what other drugs you may have also taken.
It can take you a long time to get to sleep after taking mephedrone. Some users say they suffer from insomnia for several days afterwards.
Taking mephedrone involves risks – and the dangers and long-term effects are becoming clearer as more reports emerge.
Here’s what we know:
There are several deaths a year in the UK from people taking mephedrone.
Some users have reported blue or cold fingers – probably because mephedrone affects the heart and the circulation.
There have been reports of people being hospitalised due to the short-term effects of mephedrone.
Some users have had severe nosebleeds after snorting mephedrone.
It risks overstimulating and damaging your heart and your circulation.
It risks overstimulating your nervous system, which may cause hallucinations, feelings of agitation and even fits.
Overheating has been a significant cause of deaths when other amphetamine-type drugs, such as ecstasy, have been used along with mephedrone.
Injecting mephedrone is particularly dangerous for several reasons, including the fact that it's easier to overdose from injecting.
Mephedrone can lead to:
- loss of short-term memory
Mephedrone is sometimes cut with:
- monosodium glutamate (normally used as a flavour enhancer)
- benzocaine (a local anaesthetic which can produce a ‘numbing’ effect)
Yes. You increase the risks to yourself, including the risk of death, if you combine alcohol with mephedrone or any other drug that causes a high.
Also, you can never be entirely sure that what you’re buying is actually mephedrone and not something else.
Yes, you can get addicted to mephedrone.
Some users have reported a strong psychological dependence to the drug, which can lead to the user taking increasing amounts.
Users say it can be very compulsive too, and that once they’ve started a mephedrone session it can be difficult to stop until they’ve used up their entire supply.
This is a Class B drug, which means it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
Possession can get you up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.