MDMA, commonly known as Molly or ecstasy, is sold illicitly for the euphoric high it can produce. The drug may be cut with other drugs, either to increase the high or to stretch a dealer’s supply and increase profits.

A Dangerous Combination

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a substantial percentage of drugs sold on the street as either Molly or Ecstasy contain some level of adulterants in them. Several research studies have identified MDMA as one of the most (if not the most) adulterated drugs on the market.

Many substances are used to cut MDMA or are sold as MDMA.

  •  Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) or MDEA
  •  Aspirin
  •  Caffeine
  •  Methamphetamine or amphetamine
  •  Cocaine
  •  Bath salts, including drugs like mephedrone
  •  Butylone
  •  Ketamine
  •  LSD

The DEA reports that more than 80 different unique substances have been marketed as MDMA. Many drugs sold as Molly or ecstasy contain no MDMA at all.

How To Spot Altered MDMA

The Drug Enforcement Administration has pictures of different types of ecstasy pills. Anyone who buys ecstasy on the street and gets a pill that does not look exactly like one of the pills on the DEA website should be suspicious.

Anyone buying a crystallized or powder form of Molly is a significant risk to be purchasing an adulterated drug that may not even be the drug they think it is.

The chances are so high that any form of MDMA has some adulterant in it, one should just assume the drug is cut with something else when they buy it.

There are lab kits sold online that claim to detect the presence of MDMA. Others claim to detect the presence of fentanyl in a drug sample. If you take a drug and begin to feel effects that are not consistent with what you expect, you should assume you have taken a drug that has some level of alteration. Feeling nauseous or significantly overheated, experiencing paranoid thoughts, having tremors, or experiencing other unwanted effects should warrant medical attention. Chances are you have taken MDMA that is cut with another drug, and the results could be serious.

What Are the Effects of Substances Used To Cut MDMA?

The potentially dangerous substances found in samples of MDMA have many negative effects.

  • Bath salts are synthetic cathinones or amphetamine-like substances that have been known to produce severe hallucinations, extremely violent or hostile behavior, and fatal overdoses.
  • Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is privately manufactured when sold illicitly. It may contain numerous potentially toxic substances.
  • Any stimulant substance can have detrimental effects, including increased risk for heart attack, stroke, or psychosis.
  • MDEA is a similar substance to MDMA. But MDMA is more potent and has a greater risk of overdose.
  • Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) is a drug that has similar effects to MDMA but a longer onset of action. This means individuals may take high doses of the drug expecting the effects to occur; when they don’t occur quickly, they take more. This can lead to an overdose. The drug may also lead to a significant rise in body temperature that can lead to heatstroke or seizures.

Ketamine (special K) can be dangerous if taken in high amounts.

Other Potential Effects of Cut MDMA

Depending on the substance being sold as MDMA, there could be other potentially dangerous side effects.

  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Significant overheating and dehydration
  •  Psychotic behaviors (hallucinations or paranoid delusions)
  •  Cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack
  •  Stroke
  •  Potential seizures
  •  Allergic reactions
  •  Significant overdose effects due to the mixture of different drugs

MDMA itself is a potentially dangerous substance of abuse that can lead to seizures, overheating, dehydration, and psychosis. It can be fatal if taken in large quantities.


Fentanyl is an extremely potent opiate drug that is blamed for numerous overdoses, especially due to heroin mixed with fentanyl. The rise in overdose deaths associated with cocaine and meth abuse may reflect a tendency for these drugs to also be laced with fentanyl.

There are some local reports of samples of MDMA being laced with fentanyl. At the time of this writing, this practice does not appear to be as widespread as mixtures of fentanyl with heroin, cocaine, or meth.

What Percentage of Drugs Are Adulterated?

Estimates of drugs sold on the street as MDMA that actually contain MDMA vary widely. In some cases, reports indicate that about one-third to two-thirds of drugs sold as MDMA actually contain the drug, whereas other surveys find that very few of the drugs purchased as MDMA had any MDMA in them at all.

One recent study large-scale study found some amount of MDMA in only 60 percent of the drugs sold as either ecstasy or Molly. There was no significant difference in the amount of MDMA in the drug whether it was sold as ecstasy, Molly, or some other street name.

Why Would Street Sellers Alter MDMA?

Because MDMA was widely abused in the 1990s, it became a significant target for legal authorities. This made getting the drug more difficult for illicit manufacturers and buyers.

White pills, powder and tablets on a black table.Many other drugs have effects that can simulate the overall effects of MDMA.

Because street sellers and illicit manufacturers of drugs have no quality control standards placed on them, they can market whatever they want as whatever they wish.

The goal of illicit drug manufacturers and dealers is to make money — not necessarily to ensure the authenticity or the quality of their products.

This is especially true of drugs manufactured overseas.

MDMA’s Popularity

The drug sold as ecstasy or Molly (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA) is a synthetic drug that is chemically similar to hallucinogens and stimulants.

MDMA produces amplified energy, increased feelings of empathy, hallucinations, and distortions of time and sensation.

Colors may appear brighter, and sounds may be more acute.

In the 1990s, MDMA was a popular nightclub drug among young adults. Recently, it has found a larger following.


Molly is the powder form of MDMA; Molly is slang for a molecule. Ecstasy is the pill form of MDMA.

Contrary to popular opinion, Molly may be more likely to be adulterated or contain other drugs than MDMA sold as ecstasy.

Although there are research studies that have suggested that MDMA may have some utility in the treatment of certain types of psychiatric disturbances, the drug remains listed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

This means that possession of the substance by anyone without special governmental permission is illegal.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (844) 899-5777