By: Katie Porter
A so-called purer form of ecstasy takes over the club scene
It’s a name commonly whispered in club bathrooms and in passing at music festivals. People want to party with Molly, or a purer form of ecstacy. But with at least four deaths over the summer, health officials say what’s being sold is anything but pure.
Molly is sold as a form of ecstasy containing only pure methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, which boosts serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. The consumption of these chemicals leads to feelings of euphoria and empathy.
Ecstasy pills are cut with amphetamines such as speed and contain ingredients including caffeine and codeine-based cough syrup mixed with the MDMA. Side effects of adding these toxic elements are an elevated heart rate, jaw clenching and teeth grinding. In the days following the high, called a roll, an imbalance of serotonin leaves users feeling depressed and alone.
By using only the main ingredient, a Molly high is described as “cleaner,” with less side effects and a cushioned comedown.
“It’s a thousand times better than ecstasy pills that are full of toxic stuff. Better for you, and a better time,” said Hannah, a Santa Ana College student and Molly user who withheld her last name.
The illusion of invincibility associated with the drug is a dangerous issue.
With its name connoting a wholesome girl next door suggesting happiness and friendship, most people are oblivious to the possibility of harmful effects.
Originating from the word ‘molecular’, the nickname Molly has a much more innocent overtone.
The problem is that most of the time what’s marketed as pure MDMA is still combined with adulterants, and pure Molly is actually very rare, experts say. Tests done by the Drug Enforcement Agency have shown alarming results relating to its purity.
“Eighty to 90 percent of the time we are given a substance believed to be Molly, we’re finding it’s something completely different,” DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne said.
To increase weight and profit, suppliers mix and cut the powder with anything from baby powder and rat poison to Adderall and heroin. Users typically buy the product from dealers at raves, and there is no way to verify the product’s authenticity.
Bad batches are suspected behind recent deaths in incidents along the East Coast at the end of summer. Four young adults, from Boston to Washington D.C., died after taking the drug.
Two of the dead were attending Electric Zoo, a weekend-long electronic music festival in New York. Festival organizers subsequently canceled the event after the deaths, numerous hospitalizations, and 31 drug arrests. While toxicology tests have not been released, one woman reportedly told medics she had taken six hits of the drug.
With loud beats, strobe lights, and swarms of dancing young adults, music festivals set up the perfect ambiance for a roll.
Event promoters are aware of the use of drugs at festivals. In an effort to prevent tragedies like those at Electric Zoo, preventive measures are being put in place.
Promotion company Insomniac Events has a volunteer group that patrols party grounds, handing out free water and keeping an eye on attendees who may be experiencing bad trips.
“We get them help and let them know they won’t get in trouble for going to the medical tent,” a spokesperson for Insomniac Events said in an email.
In recent years, more teens are opting to experiment with Molly, a drug classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, grouped along with PCP, crystal meth and heroin. About five percent of American high school seniors used the drug in 2011, a one percent increase from three years earlier, according to a 2012 study from the University of Michigan.
The rising popularity may be tied to the influence of pop culture glamorizing the cool factor of the social drug. Many artists, including Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj have made references to “popping Molly” in their songs. They chant about dancing carelessly and emitting positive vibes, with little thought to the impressionable ears that idolize their music.
But it’s not all good times and feel-good sensations. The body reacts in a number of negative ways to the stimulant, as reported in a 2009 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Sometimes the sensory overload is overwhelming, leading to anxiety, cold sweats and chills. Body temperature rises, and can lead to seizures and possibly fatal hyperthermia, according to the study.
While death resulting from MDMA is rare, hospital visits related to its use have increased. More than 22,000 emergency room visits in 2011 are tied to the chemical, as stated in a publication by the Drug Abuse Warning Network. This is more than twice the number of visits involving mixtures of heroin and crack cocaine.
The few cases of a roll gone wrong have not deterred the party crowd.
“You hear about these overdoses, but I guess you don’t put a second thought into it. It’s one of those things that happens to other people but not you,” Hannah said.
Mollies may give you a feel-good high, but here are some possible side effects of the party drug.
[one_third][dropcap]1[/dropcap]Hyperactivity may lead to hot flashes, sweating and headaches. Staying hydrated helps.[/one_third]
[one_third][dropcap]2[/dropcap]A lack of electrolytes leads to cramps and vomiting. Sports drinks curb the nausea.[/one_third]
[one_third_last][dropcap]3[/dropcap]Imbalanced serotonin levels in the following days lead to depression and loss of appetite. [/one_third_last]