MDA vs. MDMA: What’s the Difference?


MDA and MDMA often get confused with each other and even go unnoticed. Known as “Sally” or “sass” on the streets, MDA is very similar to molly or ecstasy, which are the names for MDMA.

Both of these substances affect the serotonin levels in the brain and cause various side effects. MDA and MDMA are very dangerous and can cause adverse side effects if abused. 

While MDA and MDMA may not seem different upon the first use, curious explorers of psychedelics and empathogens might benefit from knowing the difference and the dangers.

Continue reading to learn more about MDA vs. MDMA.  

Similarities Between MDA and MDA

The makeup of each drug is still unsure and is rarely even pure.  Taking a closer look at the drugs on a chemical level, they are relatively similar. 

MDA and MDMA are both considered psychedelics and stimulants.  Both come in a pill or powder and can be cut with many toxic chemicals that most individuals who take it are unaware of.  

MDA Side Effects of (Sally)

Sassafras and sass can also refer to MDA. In some ways, MDA is similar to MDMA, but not entirely.  

Everyone will have some difference in the side effects of MDA because of their neurochemical makeup. Still, for the most part, side effects are pretty similar across individuals who take it.  

MDA causes the brain to release large amounts of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This increase in the release of these chemicals causes individuals to have a heightened sense of mood and positive feelings. 

The after-effects of the MDA drug cause a severe serotonin drop that could last several days.  Individuals “coming down” will be depressed. 

Side effects of MDA can include: 

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Decrease in appetite 
  • Euphoria 
  • Sense of wellbeing 
  • Profuse sweating 
  • Jaw clenching 
  • Extreme energy boost 

Long-term side effects can include:

  • Erectile dysfunction 
  • Anxiety 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Memory loss 
  • Headaches 
  • Depression 

MDA is considered more of a psychedelic than a stimulant but is still considered to be both. Compared to MDMA, individuals have reported that MDA is stronger, seeing tracers and other visuals when taking it. 

Depending on the amount someone takes, it has provided an extended and more intense high.   

MDMA Side Effects of Ecstasy/Molly

MDMA or Ecstasy/Molly act similarly with the brain as MDA does. One notable difference between its effects is the after-effects.  They are reported to be less dramatic than that of MDA.

Side-effects for MDMA include: 

  • Euphoria 
  • Heightened senses 
  • Calm and relaxation 
  • Long-lasting energy
  • Empathy toward others
  • Lowered inhibitions 
  • Increased extroversion

Ecstasy usually produces a high that lasts between three and five hours. 

Depending on several factors, like body weight, gender, the amount taken, and delivery method the effects of ecstasy and molly can last up to 8 hours. 

Dangers of MDA and MDMA

Both of these substances affect the serotonin levels in the brain and cause various adverse effects.  

Regular use of MDMA has been associated with sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, concentration difficulties, depression, heart disease, and impulsivity. 

A 2-year period of heavy MDMA use is associated with diminished cognitive function. 

Some of these adverse effects are not directly correlated to MDMA but may be caused because of the use of MDMA in combination with other drugs.  MDMA use may have different impacts depending on how the drug is taken.

Addiction and Abuse

Research from studies done on humans and animals has seen that regular MDMA use can adapt the serotonin and dopamine systems in the brain. 

These systems are the same ones associated with substance use disorders and related behaviors.  

While there have been many studies to see if these substances are addicted results vary.  This could be caused by the differentiating population samples and different measures used.

MDMA users sometimes experience symptoms of addiction, including use regardless of adverse side effects like physical or psychological ones. They have also experienced tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings.

Ecstasy and Molly don’t show clear signs of withdrawal symptoms as its often used in social settings.  Therefore, recognizing the addiction can be hard. 

While signs of addiction aren’t clear, continued use of these drugs can lead to physical dependence.  Individuals will continue to use it regardless of the negative implications they might face.

No Matter What Recovery is Here to Help

While MDMA and MDA might produce euphoric effects in the short term, using this drug in the mong term can cause adverse effects. If you or a loved one is suffering from MDMA/MDA abuse, contact us today.  At No Matter What Recovery, we personalize each treatment program to your specific needs. Whether it’s opioid or alcohol, you’ll be set up for success when recovering with No Matter What.