MDMA Vs MDA: What's the Difference?
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What’s The Difference Between Molly (MDMA) And Sally (MDA)?

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

April 19, 2019

There are few differences between MDMA and MDA. However, abusing both drugs can be dangerous. A formal treatment plan may be needed to overcome Molly or Sally abuse or addiction.

Molly (MDMA) and Sally (MDA) are both street drugs that fall under the amphetamine (stimulant) and phenethylamine (psychedelic) drug classes. Neither of these substances has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use and are illegal to use, buy, or sell.

Most often used in a party setting, both MDMA and MDA can produce feelings of euphoria and empathy as well as heightened senses. Both drugs work on the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain to increase pleasure.

Molly and Sally are available in either pill or powder form and can be ingested orally or snorted. These two drugs are often cut with a number of unknown and potentially toxic chemicals. This makes it near impossible for people taking the drugs to know exactly what is in them.

While known for their feel-good effects, these drugs can be dangerous for a number of reasons.

What Is Molly (MDMA)?

Molly, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), is a synthetic substance that affects a person’s perception and state of mind. MDMA has both amphetamine and hallucinogenic properties. It is known for its ability to produce empathy, energy, pleasure, and distorted sensory perceptions.

Molly got its reputation in the nightclub and “rave” scene but is now used in a vast array of settings. People most often ingest Molly in capsule or tablet form or snort it in its powder form. Some people use MDMA in conjunction with other substances like alcohol.

How Does Molly Work?

MDMA works by impacting the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dopamine is connected to the reward system in the brain and impacts energy and mood. By increasing dopamine, Molly produces feelings of pleasure and increased energy.

Serotonin affects a number of bodily functions, including mood, sleep, and appetite. It also impacts sexual hormones. MDMA increases serotonin in the brain which in turn decreases appetite, enhances mood, and produces feelings of empathy.

Norepinephrine is connected to heart rate and blood pressure. Molly increases both of these functions and can put people at risk for heart or blood vessel problems.

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What Are The Side Effects if You Take Molly?

The effects of Molly typically last between three to six hours. Some people will take a second dose to prolong the effects of the drug.

Taking MDMA can cause the following side effects:

  • sweating
  • chills
  • teeth clenching
  • muscle aches or cramping
  • weakness
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • high body temperature

Additionally, people who take Molly can continue to experience a number of side effects up to a week after the last use. These may include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • problems with memory and focus
  • aggression
  • irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • impulsiveness

Because MDMA is often cut with other substances, people who take Molly are at risk for additional side effects. Common substances that MDMA is cut with include methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, and bath salts. All of these can be dangerous when consumed.

What Is Sally (MDA)?

While less well known, MDA, also known as sass, sassafras, and Sally, has been around longer than MDMA. MDA is a stimulant and hallucinogenic drug that is known to produce a smoother high than MDMA.

Similarly to MDMA, MDA works on the norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure, decreased appetite, increased energy, and elevated empathic feelings.

What Are The Side Effects Of MDA?

Like MDMA, MDA can come with a number of side effects. Short-term side effects tend to last up to six hours after the last dose is taken. Long-term side effects can last up to a week after using Sally.

Short-term side effects may include:

  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea and upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • increased energy
  • dry mouth
  • clenching of the jaw
  • excess sweating

Long-term side effects of Sally (MDA) may include:

  • sexual dysfunction
  • anxiety
  • memory problems
  • depression
  • headaches
  • muscle stiffness
  • trouble sleeping
  • convulsions

The side effects experienced will depend on the purity of the drug and how much is taken. Someone who takes more of MDA will experience more intense and potentially harmful side effects.


MDMA and MDA differ in that MDA provides a more potent yet gentler high when compared to MDMA. A Sally high tends to last between six to eight hours, whereas a high from Molly lasts only three to five hours.

Additionally, MDA produces more psychedelic effects than MDMA, such as visual hallucinations. It has also been noted that higher levels of dopamine are released when taking MDA vs. MDMA.

While MDMA and MDA are technically different drugs, they also share similar traits. Both drugs belong to the amphetamine and phenethylamine classes and put people at risk for abuse.

Additionally, both substances produce higher amounts of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This means that both drugs create feelings of pleasure and euphoria as well as increased energy.

While whether MDMA and MDA are addictive is still being debated, both drugs can be abused. People can also build up a tolerance to the substance, causing them to take more to feel the desired effect.

Taking more of the drug puts people at an increased risk for overdose. Symptoms of an MDMA or MDA overdose may include:

  • high blood pressure
  • seizures
  • coma
  • panic attacks
  • dizziness

If you believe someone is suffering from an overdose of MDA or MDMA, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

Getting Help For An MDMA Or MDA Addiction

While the addictive nature of these drugs is still up for debate, the psychological and physical dangers of MDMA and MDA abuse are real. If you or a loved one is struggling with Molly or Sally abuse or addiction, seeking help can prevent potentially dangerous side effects and consequences.

To learn more about MDMA vs. MDA and the treatment options available for abuse and addiction of these drugs, contact us today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is MDMA?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What are the effects of MDMA?


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