Two large, tan Molly rocks

MDA vs. MDMA: Similar Drugs, Different Effects

The similarity between MDA and MDMA has been a source of confusion for a generation of drug users. It’s understandable considering the two drugs share similar names and characteristics.

Just the other night one of my Twitter followers tweeted me upon coming across my MDA trip report, perplexed as to why I left the second “M” out of the title.

I gotta say, I was quite honored that the @Trap_God_ himself saw fit to bestow his inquiry upon me (and quite surprised the God of all Traps turned out to be a white dude). I felt such an honor warranted a deeper look at what makes MDA and MDMA unique from one another. It’s time the mystery surrounding these two drugs be put to rest once and for all!


While we here at ewwty certainly have our fun tripping on various substances, we do nevertheless value responsibility and understanding when it comes to drug use, à la the values espoused by Erowid. And I think these values are all the more important considering the prevalence of Molly-related “overdose” deaths these past few years.

I should note for the sake of clarity, I put “overdose” above in quotes because these deaths are never actually the result of overdose, but rather a litany of other factors which modern journalists would rather not delve into. That, and I find quotation marks are the best way to impart my sassy personality in written form. You know you can’t get enough of that sass (pun intended).

Anyway… differences between MDA and MDMA… let’s do this junt.

What’s the difference between MDA (Sassafras) and MDMA (Molly)

A comparison of the chemical structure of MDA and MDMA molecules

Okay, let’s get these big-ass scientific names out of the way.

MDA stands for methylenedioxyamphetamine, while MDMA stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, hence the extra “M.” Their similarity is further reflected by their chemical structures, shown above.

I’m no chemist, so I can’t speak to the significance of their molecular structure. But I have tripped on both MDA and MDMA more than once, so I’ll just focus on the difference between their effects.

The main difference between MDA and MDMA is that MDA’s effects are more psychedelic, while MDMA’s are more entactogenic.

MDA Drug Capsules
MDA Capsules

That is, MDA is more prone to producing visual hallucinations/distortions, while MDMA is more prone to feelings of euphoria/well-being. While all drugs have different effects on different people, this is supported by pretty much everyone who has experienced both MDA and MDMA (myself included).

That’s not to say that MDMA doesn’t possess psychedelic qualities as well (nor that MDA doesn’t possess entactogen qualities). They just vary in degree.

There are, of course, other differences in the effects of these two chemicals. Here’s the general consensus among users who’ve experienced both:

  • While both drugs are stimulants, MDA is much more potent in terms of it’s stimulant effects (i.e. 150 milligrams of MDA induces more potent effects than 150 milligrams of MDMA).
  • MDMA is more mellow than MDA, or less likely to produce a “bad trip.”
  • MDA produces more physical side effects such as gastric distress and pupil dilation.
  • MDA is more likely to induce nausea, dizziness, and vertigo.
  • MDA is more likely to induce mental confusion; on the contrary, MDMA tends to increase mental lucidity.

Like I said, this is based off my own research, feedback from readers and friends, and is supported by my own experiences with MDA and MDMA.

To further illustrate the differences between MDA and MDMA, here’s Erowid‘s list of MDA effects next to their list of MDMA effects.

MDA effects MDMA effects
POSITIVE
  • extreme mood lift
  • increased willingness to communicate
  • increase in energy (stimulation)
  • ego softening
  • feelings of comfort, belonging, and closeness to others
  • feelings of love and empathy
  • forgiveness
  • increased awareness & appreciation of music
  • increased awareness of senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision)
  • profound life-changing spiritual experiences
  • neurotically based fear dissolution
  • sensations bright and intense
  • urge to hug and kiss people
POSITIVE
  • mild to extreme mood lift, euphoria
  • increased willingness to communicate
  • increase in energy (stimulation)
  • ego softening
  • decreased fear, anxiety, and insecurities
  • feelings of comfort, belonging, and closeness to others
  • feelings of love and empathy
  • forgiveness of self and others
  • a sense of inner peace and acceptance of self, others, and the world
  • increased awareness & appreciation of music
  • increased awareness of senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision)
  • increased tactile sensation (pleasure from the sense of touch and being touched)
  • life-changing spiritual experiences
  • sensations bright and intense
  • urge to hug and kiss people
  • analgesia, anti-nocioception, decreased pain perception
NEUTRAL
  • decreased appetite
  • visual distortion
  • rapid, involuntary eye jiggling (nystagmus)
  • mild visual hallucinations
  • moderately increased heart rate and blood pressure (increases with dose)
  • restlessness, nervousness, shivering
  • change in body temperature regulation
  • strong desire to do or want more when coming down
NEUTRAL
  • decreased appetite
  • visual distortion
  • rapid, involuntary eye jiggling (nystagmus)
  • mild visual hallucinations (uncommon)
  • moderately increased heart rate and blood pressure (increases with dose)
  • restlessness, nervousness, shivering
  • change in body temperature regulation
  • upwellings of unexpected emotion, emotional lability
  • strong desire to do or want more when coming down
NEGATIVE
    (negative side effects increase with higher doses and frequent use)
  • inappropriate and/or unintended emotional bonding
  • tendency to say things you might feel uncomfortable about later
  • mild to extreme jaw clenching (trisma), tongue and cheek chewing, and teeth grinding (bruxia)
  • difficulty concentrating & problems with activities requiring linear focus
  • short-term memory scramble or loss & confusion
  • muscle tension
  • erectile disfunction and difficulty reaching orgasm
  • increase in body temperature, hyperthermia, dehydration (drink water)
  • hyponatremia (don’t drink too much water)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo
  • post-trip Crash – unpleasantly harsh comedown from the peak effect
  • hangover the next day, lasting days to weeks
  • mild depression and fatigue for up to a week
  • severe depression and/or fatigue (uncommon)
  • possible strong urge to repeat the experience, though not physically addictive
  • possible psychological crisis requiring hospitalization (psychotic episodes, severe panic attacks, etc) (rare)
  • possible liver toxicity (rare)
  • possible neurotoxicity (controversial)
  • small risk of death. Assuming similar risk to MDMA, approximately 2 per 100,000 users have extreme negative reactions resulting in death. (rare)
NEGATIVE
  • inappropriate and/or unintended emotional bonding
  • anxiety or paranoia (less common than opposite)
  • agitation (less common than opposite)
  • tendency to say things you might feel uncomfortable about later
  • mild to extreme jaw clenching (trisma), tongue and cheek chewing, and teeth grinding (bruxia)
  • difficulty concentrating & problems with activities requiring linear focus
  • short-term memory scramble or loss & confusion
  • short periods of swooning, or disconnection from the external world, usually at very high doses or during brief blasts of intense rushing while coming up.
  • impaired ability to focus eyes / blurred vision (related to nystagmus and dilation)
  • muscle tension
  • insomnia, inability to fall asleep when physically tired
  • erectile disfunction and difficulty reaching orgasm
  • increase in body temperature, hyperthermia, dehydration (drink water)
  • hyponatremia (don’t drink too much water)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo
  • sadness on coming down, sense of loss or immediate nostalgia
  • post-trip Crash – unpleasantly harsh comedown from the peak effect
  • hangover the next day, lasting days to weeks
  • mild depression and fatigue for up to a week
  • severe depression and/or fatigue (uncommon)
  • possible strong urge to repeat the experience, though not physically addictive
  • possible psychological crisis requiring hospitalization (psychotic episodes, severe panic attacks, etc) (rare)
  • possible liver toxicity (rare)
  • possible neurotoxicity (controversial)
  • small risk of death; approximately 2 per 100,000 new users have extreme negative reactions resulting in death (rare)

As you can see, they have a lot of the same effects. If you ask me, their list of MDA effects is somewhat lacking. It seems as though it could be a little more specific; though, admittedly, I’m not sure exactly what I would add. I’d need to discuss it with others to confidently add to it.

Here’s how others describe the difference between MDA and MDMA:

MDA has a much more tactile and visual nature than MDMA, which is more of a clear mental state. MDA is even more touch-sensitive than MDMA, and sexual feelings are more pronounced.
– via drugs-forum.com

I found MDA to have a more psychedelic flavour than pure MDMA, a slighter longer duration of effects and more marked body-load with jaw clenching and nystagmus (eyes jittering).Both MDA and MDMA are extremely pleasurable but I prefer MDA for its ‘trippiness’ over and above the ‘I love everyone and everything’ feeling.
– via DMT Nexus

…both have given me amazing experiences, MDMA giving the more intensely euphoric experiences and very good for intimate gatherings of close friends and sexual partners. As others have said MDA is very intense and has given me amazing visuals when combined with LSD, also it does last a good bit longer and has much more available energy then MDMA which usually has me layed out on a bed or sofa (unless combined with L), unlike MDA where I can dance my ass off by itself unless too high a dose is taken and I’m in another world.
– via Shroomery

Anyway, that should about cover it. As the holy Trap God himself put it,


 

If you’ve experienced both MDA and MDMA and have input to share, or if you think I got something wrong, please leave a comment below!