MDMA, which in its powder form is called molly (short for molecule) and in its pill form is called ecstasy, is a popular club drug. MDMA is a mixture of phenylethylamines, which release feel-good chemicals in your brain, and amphetamines, which are stimulants and hallucinogenic agents. (A stimulant is a drug that causes a sharp uptick in wakefulness and alertness and generally speeds up your nervous system.) Molly often comes as loose whitish powder in a bag or in a pill capsule and is considered to be the purer form of MDMA. Ecstasy comes a solid pill, not a capsule, and is often cut with other drugs or additives. Since you never know exactly what’s in it, it’s riskier and more unpredictable than molly.

One of the main problems with both molly and ecstasy is that it’s impossible to tell if they’re real until after they’re ingested, which makes them super hazardous right off the bat. Even experienced users of molly are really only able to tell if it’s legitimate by tasting it, and it’s hard to describe the taste unless someone’s already taken it. Ecstasy, even if it is the authentic article, is very rarely pure, so it’s hard to gauge how intensely a person will feel it or what the effects of the specific pill they’re taking will be. Ecstasy varies depending on how many dosages (or “stacks”) are in a given pill. A single-stacked pill is one dose; double-, triple-, and quad-stacked pills add single doses incrementally.

If someone decides to try MDMA, it’s best to take one capsule or 100 mg of molly, or one single-stacked pill of ecstasy. This is light-years below the lethal dose of MDMA, but it’s better to play it really safe with drugs that might have any adverse effects on one’s health and/or mind (i.e., all of them).

MDMA can have a wide range of effects on the people who use it, in any form. Most commonly, it makes them feel extreme euphoria, because it releases a ton of serotonin and dopamine into the brain. Those are the chemicals that your brain naturally produces to register good feelings. MDMA forces your brain to continually overproduce these chemicals. The stimulant aspect of most MDMA makes people feel hyper and speedy, so they usually get sweaty, grind their teeth, and exert tons of energy. As a result, those who choose to do it NEED to drink water. Not too much, though—just keep a bottle in your hand, sip from it every couple minutes, and make sure to refill or replace it every hour or so. Users also NEED to be around people they trust to stick with them and not leave them at the club while they’re making out with a stranger no matter how much they say they want them to, and make sure to be that kind of person for their friends, as well. People who do MDMA often really, really want to get sexy with others, but they/you must absolutely not kiss someone else’s partner, do anything unprotected, or go somewhere with a stranger. I know this sounds like basic knowledge, but the thing is that if a person decides to do MDMA, they most likely are going to have to actively remind themselves and their friends of these things throughout the experience.

People have to be really extra careful with MDMA, because it can be harmful to long-term health and wellness. Although only about five people die of causes related to MDMA each year, you definitely don’t want to be one of them, so there are some good things to know in advance when choosing whether to take it. While it’s very rare to die from MDMA by itself, DO NOT DO IT if you have cardiovascular issue or diabetes, or are obese (I hate that word, sorry for using it), since these conditions increase the risk of overdose and/or complications from not only MDMA, but any amphetamine or stimulant. Also, DO NOT mix MDMA with alcohol under ANY circumstances, because people who do really can’t keep track of how much they’re drinking, which is always extremely dangerous and inadvisable. If a person uses MDMA frequently, it can lead to decreases in things like concentration, memory, mood, the ability to learn, and attention span, all of which are precious and suck to lose, especially willingly. Also, remember those warm-and-fuzzy-feeling chemicals dopamine and serotonin? Since MDMA causes your brain to overproduce those things, it can deplete them significantly in both the short and the long term, which can lead to at least temporary depression.

If a person does use MDMA, they should try as hard as possible to make sure it’s real, so as not to scarf down harmful mystery chemicals (although, as mentioned, there’s no real way of knowing this going into an experience), not do it often in order to preserve their brains and happiness, and conduct themselves AS MINDFULLY AND RESPONSIBLY AS POSSIBLE while high. With the last thing in mind, if a person must do MDMA, as with any drug, let me reiterate that they NEED to be around at least one person whom they would literally trust with their lives, because it’s not safe to use drugs alone.