Molly (MDMA) and Sally (MDA) both fall under the amphetamines (stimulants) and phenethylamine (psychedelic) class of drugs. They are both considered a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the DEA, which means they have no approved medical use and present a high risk for abuse. While there are similarities between MDA and MDMA, their effects are at times vastly different and therefore present different risks. As the majority of MDA or MDMA use is illegal, this compounds the risk of other substances being present. Naturally, the risks from other substances will vary based on the substances and the amount present.

Over time, use is increasing and particularly in younger groups.


What is MDA?

MDA was first synthesized in 1910, roughly 2 years before MDMA was synthesized. Doctors at the time hoped that MDA could help cure those with Parkinson’s disease and depression. However, ultimately in 1970, MDA and other psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin were criminalized and listed as a Schedule 1 drug.


3,4-Methylene​dioxy​amphetamine (MDA, Sally, Sassafras drug) is a psychedelic drug of the amphetamine family which is derived from the sassafras plant. MDA has a profound effect on the chemical activity in the brain and is responsible for feelings of intense elevations of mood and empathy, euphoria and hallucinations. Many refer to is a “love drug”. MDA’s emotional effects come from its role as a potent serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine releasing agent (SNDRA). SNDRA’s promote the release of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine into the body each of which produces different physiological effects on the body. 

What does MDA do?

Dopamine is considered the “feel good” chemical as it is linked to the brain’s reward center. Accordingly, it is usually releases in the body when we do something pleasurable such as drinking, eating or having sex.

Serotonin helps regulate mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory and various other bodily functions. MDA increases the amount of serotonin released into the brain and in turn causes effects such as decreased appetite.

Norepinephrine is a stress hormone which is somewhat similar to adrenaline. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure.

Generally, MDA is rarely sought after recreationally and most people prefer it’s better known counterpart, MDMA. However, MDA is a primary metabolite of MDMA. MDA is known to be much more potent than MDMA. While the general effects may be the same between the two drugs, MDA is known for being more stimulant and hallucinogenic.

The short-term effects of MDA last around 6 hours since the last dose. However, the long-term effects can last up to a week after using.

Side effects of MDA use

Short-term side effects may include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression (especially common during the end of the high)
  • Lack of focus
  • Recklessness

Long-term side effects may include:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Liver damage

What is MDMA?

MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck, a German pharmaceutical company. At the time, it was being researched as a psychotherapy drug but eventually made its way to the street around the 1970’s. 

3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA, E, Ecstasy or Molly) is quite similar to MDA, though most resources consider it to have weaker effects. Similarly, It still affects a person’s perception and can cause hallucinations. MDMA is also a SNDRA and produces similar effects on the chemical composition of the brain as MDA.

MDMA’s effects typically last 3-6 hours. Nevertheless, it is possible to prolong with additional doses. Some other short-term effects include:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches or cramping
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased body temperature

Other long-term effects may last up to a week and include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems with memory and focus
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetit

Increasingly, producers mix Molly with other addictive substances in order to be more profitable. This includes meth, ketamine, cocaine or bath salts. As a result, these drugs mixed with Molly cause other unknown side effects and can be dangerous.

How long does Molly stay in your system?

Depending on the dosage, Molly will be detectable in your body via:

  • Urine for 1-3 days after ingestion
  • Blood for 1-2 days after ingestion
  • Saliva for 1-2 days
  • Hair for around 3 months

Other bodily functions will affect drug metabolism such as:

  • Age
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Kidney Function
  • Liver Function
  • Genetics

Molly has a half-life of around 8 hours which means it will take 8 hours for half of the ingested chemical dose to leave your body. Therefore, it takes about 40 hours for the chemical to fully leave your body. Given that MDA is a metabolite of MDMA, MDA may be detected in the body much longer than MDMA although there is not much research on exact figures.

Molly - MDA vs MDMA


Both drugs share commonalities but MDMA is much more popular in the US. They both produce similar effects. However, many consider MDA more potent as it causes more powerful and longer-lasting effects. Molly and Sally are both available in capsule or tablet form. Subsequently, they are often crushed or snorted. Research has not been conclusive on whether MDMA or MDA is addictive, however, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “it affects many of the same neurotransmitter systems in the brain that are targeted by other addictive drugs.”

Still, you can also develop a tolerance to both of the drugs. A tolerance will cause you to take higher doses to feel the same effects. The NIH also states that “…additional doses of MDMA can produce unexpectedly high blood levels, which could worsen the toxic effects of this drug.” This increases the risk for adverse health effects and the possibility of overdose. Higher doses increase the risk of overdose. 


It is possible for MDMA or MDA addiction to cause serious long term effects on the body. MDMA sometimes stresses the heart, thereby increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, and can damage kidneys. Some users snort either MDA or MDMA, and snorting any substance is bad for anyone.

Further, it’s possible your reliance on MDMA stems from an underlying addiction to other substances present. Effective treatment plans include cognitive behavioral therapy which helps assess and modify one’s way of thinking and behavior. It also helps patients learn to manage triggers or stress that leads to drug use or abuse in the first place. An effective treatment center will work with patients to find the right treatment plan for them. This likely involves a combination of various forms of treatment.


If you or a loved one are struggling with abuse or addiction, please contact us today.



DEA – List of Controlled Substances

NIDA – MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse

NIH – Is MDMA Addictive?

Cedars Sinai – Is Snortable Chocolate Safe?



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