What are the most common adulterants in what’s sold as "molly" or "ecstasy" (in other words, what chemicals is it commonly cut with)?

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Due to being one of the most adulterated drug markets, the impurity of molly in different regions and at different times varies quite a bit – that is, there’s no such thing as the "most common adulterants." Besides MDMA, "ecstasy" or "molly" may contain varying levels of:

  • Psychoactive substances designed to mimic the effects of MDMA like MDA (methylene-dioxyamphetamine a.k.a. “sass”) or “bath salts” (a general term for synthetic cathinones, a class of amphetamine-like stimulants);
  • Stimulants like amphetamine, cocaine, caffeine or methamphetamine; or, more rarely
  • Anesthetics such as ketamine (“Special K”) or dextromethorphan (DXM – an ingredient found in over-the-counter cough medicines).

All of these can significantly amplify potential harms. The most important thing for harm reduction is to know what you’re getting. According to Ecstasydata.org – an independent laboratory testing program of Erowid Center – among 250 samples they analyzed in 2014 that were sold as molly, 40 samples contained MDMA with adulterants, and nearly half (124) contained no MDMA at all!

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  1. Ecstasydata.org, “Test Result Statistics: Summary Data,” (2015), http://www.ecstasydata.org/stats.php.

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Shelley's Story

Shelley’s Story

Shelley Goldsmith was 19 when she died after taking MDMA and going to a club in DC. Her mother, Dede Goldsmith, believes her death may have been preventable if drug education and harm reduction services were more widely available and accepted.

Learn more about Dede’s campaign and the work of DPA’s Music Fan program to promote compassionate, health-based responses to drug use at festivals, concerts and clubs.

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