These substances are known by different street names, causing difficulty in identifying them. MDMA is commonly called “Molly” or “Ecstasy,” and MDA is usually referred to as “Sally.” While both drugs are ingested and closely linked, they are different. So what distinguishes them, and what should you know about their consequences?
What is MDA?
MDA (3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine) is known as “Sally,” “Sassafras,” and “Sass.” It shares a close relationship with MDMA, resulting in similar effects. MDA also acts as a hallucinogen, causing psychedelic effects. The common effects of MDA include increased affection and empathy, energy and excitement, euphoria, and boosted self-confidence.
Like MDMA, MDA may also result in side effects such as bruxism, hypertension, loss of appetite, chest pain, fluctuating heart rate, GI disturbances, and excessive sweating. Notably, MDA can cause serotonin syndrome, a life-threatening medical emergency.
MDA in Popular Culture
You probably have heard of MDA being mentioned or referenced in several songs and movies in popular culture. Here are a few examples:
- The song “MDMA” by the electronic music duo Disclosure references MDA in the lyrics: “This MDA’s kicking in / It’s time we all stop sleepin’ in.”
- In the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the character played by Jonah Hill mentions taking MDA with the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
- The song “Love, Love, Love” by the indie rock band Of Monsters and Men references MDA in the lyrics: “You were searching for an answer / In a world full of strangers / To avoid the dangers / But the strangers were danger / Do you remember taking MDA?”
- In the TV series “Breaking Bad,” one of the characters, Jesse Pinkman, uses MDA in a scene where he goes to a rave.
- The song “MDA” by the electronic music artist Walker & Royce directly references the substance in its title.
What is MDMA?
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a commonly used party drug, particularly among young adults, which is also known as “Molly” or “Ecstasy.” It generates various effects, including amplified emotional sensations, heightened sensitivity to touch, feelings of closeness with people in the room, distortion of time and space perception, and increased sexual feelings also referred to as the “love drug.”
However, MDMA is categorized as a Schedule I drug. Some of its side effects include anxiety, paranoia, gastrointestinal issues, sleep pattern changes, cardiovascular problems, headaches, and memory difficulties. Responses to street drugs are diverse; while some individuals may experience all side effects, others may experience very few.
Combining MDMA with LSD may create a hazardous combination. An MDMA overdose can cause liver and kidney toxicity since these organs filter toxins from the body, and an overdose of MDMA can overload them, leading to severe medical complications.
MDMA in Popular Culture
Here are the popular mentions and depictions of MDMA in various forms of popular culture::
- Music: MDMA has been mentioned in the lyrics of many songs across various genres, such as “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, “The Morning” by The Weeknd, and “Electric Feel” by MGMT. The drug has also been associated with the rave and dance music culture, with some DJs and producers openly discussing their experiences.
- Movies: MDMA has been portrayed in several movies, such as “Human Traffic,” a British movie about clubbing and drug culture, and “Go,” an American film depicting young adults’ experiences on a wild night out that involves MDMA.
- TV shows: MDMA has been depicted in some TV shows, such as “Euphoria,” an American series that explores the lives of teenagers dealing with various issues, including drug use, and “Skins,” a British series that follows the lives of a group of teenagers and their experiences with sex, drugs, and relationships.
- Books: MDMA has been mentioned in various fiction and non-fiction literature, such as “Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance” by Irvine Welsh and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe.
What Are the Biggest Differences Between MDMA and MDA?
When trying to distinguish between MDMA and MDA, it’s important to remember that both are considered stimulants and hallucinogens and are classified as amphetamines. However, the effects of the two drugs can be significantly different. When purchasing street drugs, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting, so it’s difficult to predict the effects.
MDMA tends to cause greater euphoria and a sensation of being transported to another dimension where time and space are distorted. In contrast, MDA tends to provide more energy and could result in a longer-lasting high. Both drugs can alter how visual and auditory stimuli are perceived, but in different ways, and people’s experiences with each drug can vary.
It’s worth noting that MDMA can break down into MDA, among other metabolites, which can also affect the experience. Regardless, being cautious and aware of the potential risks when using any street drug is essential.
Why Are MDMA and MDA Dangerous?
If you are using MDMA or MDA, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with these drugs. Street drugs can be cut with unknown substances, making it difficult to predict their effects and increasing the risk of dangerous complications.
Both drugs can also be addictive and have long-term mental health effects. MDMA and MDA impact neurotransmitter receptors in the brain and can lead to depression and anxiety, while building up a tolerance could cause dangerous medical complications.
It’s important to approach these drugs cautiously and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.
What Are the Side Effects of MDA?
Like many other drugs, MDA has several potential side effects ranging from mild to severe. One of the most significant potential side effects of MDA is the potential for neurotoxicity, which can lead to long-term cognitive impairments.
MDA can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can strain the cardiovascular system and potentially lead to more serious issues like heart attacks or strokes.
Also, MDA can cause hyperthermia or a significant increase in body temperature, which can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Other potential side effects of MDA include anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, and muscle rigidity.
It’s important to note that the severity and type of side effects can vary depending on several factors, including the dosage, individual physiology, and method of administration.
What Are the Side Effects of MDMA?
Short-term side effects of MDMA can include increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, teeth clenching, blurred vision, nausea, and sweating. Users may also experience various psychological effects, including increased emotional feelings such as empathy, heightened sensitivity to touch, and changes in the perception of time and space.
Some users may experience anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks. MDMA can also cause sleep disturbances, headaches, and memory concerns.
Long-term use of MDMA can have serious physical and psychological consequences. Some studies suggest that chronic use of MDMA can cause lasting damage to the serotonin system, leading to long-term mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and impulsivity.
Chronic use can also lead to sleep disturbances, and some studies have suggested that MDMA use may cause cognitive impairments, particularly in memory and executive function.
Also, the risk of cardiovascular issues, such as hypertension and chest pain, increases with the long-term use of MDMA. MDMA overdose can also lead to toxicity of the liver and kidneys, which can result in serious and potentially life-threatening medical consequences.
It is important to note that the severity of MDMA’s side effects can vary widely depending on individual factors such as age, sex, weight, overall health, dosage, and frequency of use.
Do MDA and MDMA Have Medical Benefits?
MDA and MDMA are classified as Schedule I substances in the United States, which means they are not approved for medical use. There is ongoing research into the potential therapeutic uses of these substances.
Some studies suggest that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted breakthrough therapy designation to MDMA for the treatment of PTSD, and some clinical trials are underway to evaluate its safety and efficacy.
MDA is less studied than MDMA in the context of medical research, but some researchers have suggested that it may have potential as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders. However, more research is needed to fully understand these substances’ potential benefits and risks for medical use.
What Are the Signs of MDA and MDMA Addiction?
MDA and MDMA are both powerful drugs that can cause addiction. Signs of addiction can vary between individuals, but some common signs of MDA and MDMA addiction include the following:
- Feeling a strong urge to use the drug even when unnecessary.
- Needing higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects as before.
- Experiencing negative physical and psychological symptoms when trying to quit or reduce usage.
- Neglecting important personal, work or school responsibilities due to drug use.
- Continuing to use the drug even though it is causing negative consequences such as legal or financial problems, relationship issues, or declining health.
- Withdrawing from social activities and relationships that were once important.
- Trying to quit or reduce drug use without success.
It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to MDA or MDMA. Addiction is a treatable condition; seeking professional help can lead to a successful recovery.
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Both drugs are also classified as stimulants and hallucinogens, although their effects can differ. Finally, both MDMA and MDA can be classified as amphetamines, which are a group of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.
MDA is more commonly associated with energy and stimulation. At the same time, MDMA is known for its empathogenic effects, including increased emotional feelings, heightened sensitivity to touch, and a sense of closeness with others. Additionally, MDA can have more significant cardiovascular effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, while MDMA is associated with more significant changes in the perception of time and space. It is important to note that both drugs can be dangerous and have the potential for addiction and other negative health consequences.
The risk of addiction is also higher when these drugs are used in combination with other substances or when they are used in certain settings, such as in the club or party scene. Additionally, people who have a history of substance abuse or addiction may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction to MDA and MDMA.
MDA and MDMA are similar in appearance and effects, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two without chemical testing. The only way to know for sure is to test the substance using a drug testing kit or by sending a sample to a laboratory for analysis. In some cases, MDA may have a more brownish colour and a slightly different chemical smell compared to MDMA, but this is not a reliable way to determine the difference.
It is also important to note that street drugs can be cut with other substances, so it is possible that a substance sold as MDMA or MDA may not actually be pure. Therefore, it is important to practice caution and harm reduction when using any street drugs.
High doses of these drugs, as well as prolonged or repeated use, may also increase the risk of neurotoxicity, which is damage to the brain cells that can result in cognitive deficits and other problems. It is important to note that the exact extent and nature of the potential brain damage caused by MDA and MDMA are not fully understood and may vary depending on individual factors such as frequency and dose of use, as well as pre-existing health conditions.