MDA Vs. MDMA - Are Sally and Molly Related?

Comparisons Between MDA and MDMA

How Are MDA and MDMA Related?

Before we delve into this topic, let’s be clear on one point. We rarely know exactly what we are getting on the street. At the point of sale, no one is certain about the chemical make-up of the drug, and frequently you will find MDMA mixed with MDA but being sold only as
“Ecstasy.” However, MDA is sold as a drug recreationally on its own accord, but it is not used as often as MDMA is due to its higher toxicity and greater intensity.

Sally Vs. Molly - Other Names for MDA and MDMA


Sally, Sassafras, Sass, Mandy, Truth Drug, and The Love Drug.


Molly, Ecstasy, Adam, Scooby snacks, Snowball, X, XTC, E, MD, Lovedrug, Truth Drug, and Hug.

What is MDA, and How Does it Compare to MDMA?

Both MDMA and MDA fall under a class of drugs called phenylethylamines or amphetamines. They are both stimulants and psychedelics. The “highs” of the two drugs are different, which is why MDA is often sold on its own recreationally. However, it is not uncommon for two people taking the same drug to experience unique highs since each individual is different neurochemically.

The oil from the sassafras plant is the source of MDA. Chemically it is 3,4 Methylenedioxyamphetamine. The oil, called safrole, is used to increase the activity of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are released upon ingestion

of MDA, and safrole inhibits their reuptake, so the neurotransmitters stay in the system longer. The mood is directly related to levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels.

Comparisons Between MDA and MDMA

Other namesSally, Sassafras, Sass, Mandy, and The Love Drug, Truth drug.Molly, Ecstasy, Adam, Scooby snacks, Snowball, X, XTC, E, MD, Lovedrug, and Hug, Truth drug.
ChemistryLacks extra carbon & hydrogen;

3,4 Methylenedioxyamphetamine

Has extra carbon & hydrogen;



DosageThe dose should be lower than an equivalent amount of MDMA100-180mg
HighIncreased visual stimulation & hallucinations; intense; high stimulant qualitiesMore sensual and empathetic
ClassificationPhenethylamine and amphetaminePhenethylamine and amphetamine
Duration of high4-8 hours3-4 hours
ToxicityMore toxicLess toxic

The Difference in Chemical Structure Between MDMA and MDA

Structurally, they are very similar to each other. MDA lacks the carbon and extra hydrogen atom that MDMA has.

Figure 1. MDA Without the Carbon and Hydrogen Molecules of MDMA
Figure 1. MDA Without the Carbon and Hydrogen Molecules of MDMA


Figure 2. MDMA with the Carbon and Extra Hydrogen on MDA
Figure 2. MDMA with the Carbon and Extra Hydrogen on MDA

History of MDA

MDA was first made around 1910, two years before MDMA synthesis. Researchers tested MDA on Parkinson’s Disease in the early twentieth century, and it wasn’t until later in 1912 that MDMA was synthesized to find a drug to stop bleeding. From 1949-1957, it was given to more than 500 people as a potential antidepressant and anorectic by Smith, Kline, and French. MDA was patented as a tranquilizer in 1960 and as an anorectic in 1961. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that MDA began appearing on the counterculture scene.

History of MDMA

MDMA was first mentioned in files from Merck in 1912, where it was being researched as a substitute for another drug and was termed Methylsafrylamin. MDMA was used as a mind control weapon in the 1950s during the Cold War by the CIA.

What is the Legal Status of MDMA and MDA

Neither drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Association for medical use and is illegal to use, buy or sell. In 1970 MDA was criminalized along with LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin.

Later in the ‘70s and early ’80s, MDMA resurfaced for psychological research purposes, and it hit the streets again. With MDA criminalized, the renewed MDMA was unregulated and began to surpass MDA in popularity. Eventually, in July of 1985, the Drug Enforcement Agency criminalized MDMA, and, despite this, today, both forms are used for exploration, recreation, or research regardless of legal status.

What is the High Like for MDA and MDMA?

Neurochemically, the brain on MDA and MDMA releases large amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine with smaller amounts of dopamine. Both MDMA and MDA cause a release of these neurochemicals. This causes feelings of heightened emotions and empathy for the people around you on both drugs. Feelings of affection and love are elevated. Another term for this is “empathogen.” In addition to this heightened awareness of being close to those around you, it can also cause:

  • Euphoria or extreme pleasure
  • Empathy
  • Sexual desire
  • Excitement
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased energy

Users often describe the high on MDA as more potent and intense than that achieved with MDMA. One common distinction between MDMA and MDA is that MDA is more psychedelic, and MDMA is more empathogenic.

Some users describe that they tend to have more visual events with MDA along with increased focused energy. The increased social openness, increased sensuality, and heightened empathy are more familiar with MDMA, and the hallucinogenic qualities are toned down.

What Forms Do MDA and MDMA Come In?

MDA, like MDMA, is generally sold in pill form, although you can get it in a white powder that can be sniffed or consumed in drinks. It can be taken orally, sniffed, or injected. It can never be guaranteed what might be mixed in with the recreational drug.

The powder may also be placed inside a small piece of paper (i.e., toilet tissue) and swallowed. This practice is called “parachuting.”

What is the Dosage for MDA and MDMA?

Dosages for the two drugs are about the same, around 100 mg. Wikipedia cites a dosage of between 100-160 mg recreationally. The dose ranges are variable, with other research citing a dose range up to 180 mg, with an average dose of MDMA for a female being 125 mg. However, since the reactions experienced under MDA’s influence are more intense, one may want to be cautious with the dosing when first starting to avoid unwanted intensities or side effects. Start low and go slow. Dosage should be based on weight and height, with heavier, taller individuals tolerating a higher dose than lighter, shorter ones.

How Long Does it Take to Have an Effect After Consumption?

According to anecdotal reports, 30-60 minutes can be expected before experiencing any effects from MDA or MDMA use. The amount of time will vary depending on how it’s taken and the dosage. It will take effect quicker if it is snorted than traveling through the digestive tract.

How Long Does an MDA/MDMA High Last?

A Sally or Sassafras high can last 6-8 hours with a one-hour “comedown” period. Reports of the comedown period are not very pleasant, and users may experience fatigue and depression that may linger for days. MDMA’s high may last 3-6 hours.

What Are the Side-Effects of Taking MDA?

The side effects of taking MDA are similar to MDMA, with MDA showing more intense destruction of the neurological system. Short-term side effects can last up to six hours after the last dose, with long-term effects lasting up to a week after use.

Short Term Effects of Taking MDA

  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Increased energy
  • Jaw clenching
  •  Excessive sweating

Long Term Effects of Taking MDA

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Convulsions

Side effects will depend on the purity of the drug and how much is taken.

Who Uses These Drugs?

Is there a culture or subculture that gravitates towards the use of MDA? Studies show that most recreational use is by young men between the ages of 21-25 and by gay and bisexual men and women. Most use typically begins at age 21. It is a known counterculture experience and is a common presence at RAVE parties and in clubs. MDMA and MDA are often interchangeable when buying hallucinogens, and frequently you may not know what you are getting.

It was used previously in research studies on neurosis before MDMA came on the scene. Now, MDMA is viewed as the safer research alternative and the preferred research form for psychologists and psychiatrists who study it for neurosis, anxiety, and PTSD.

What Are You Getting When You Buy MDMA or MDA?

Perhaps the popularity of MDMA is why it is cut with other substances. This includes the cutting or mixing of MDMA with MDA. Though technically, the altered substances are not MDMA, they are sold as such. The rise in impure MDMA has even affected its street names, with the name Molly being given to any number of substances that are being passed off as MDMA. For example, Molly is a mixture of MDMA and MDA. Others try to use terms to signify the purity of one compound over another, only to muddy the waters more deeply with confusion.

How to Know if Its MDA or MDMA

MDA seems to have the least risk of all the adulterants, with adulterants being cocaine, heroin, other amphetamines, or similar addictive substances. These added ingredients are more often than not the cause of many of the side effects seen with the use of these drugs. However, the mislabeling can go in both directions, with adulterated MDMA being sold as MDA. The best way around this is to test the substance yourself with a testing kit that is available to tell the difference between the two substances and for the presence of contaminants.


MDMA and MDA are close relatives of each other both chemically and neurologically. They have similar effects, similar side effects, and closely related highs. Despite their Schedule I status, the research continues using these substances to treat PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Recreationally they are still hot on the club scene and aren’t about to go away. So, the best bet is to stay informed and to use a testing kit when in doubt.

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