A 20-year-old communications major from the University of New Hampshire. A 23-year-old graduate from Syracuse University. A 19-year-old honors student from the University of Virginia. What do these young adults have in common? Their lives were all cut short from the designer drug molly over the past week.
What Exactly is Molly?
Molly is the street name for MDMA. It’s often believed to be a purer form of MDMA, but really, it’s just MDMA cut with other drugs like heroin, ketamine, ephedra, cocaine or other synthetic cannabinoids. The drug has been around for decades and was popular with clubbers and psychedelic fans back in the 90s under the name ecstasy.
The drug is known for its ability to create feelings of warmth, intimacy and euphoria. It has been glamorized in recent songs by Miley Cyrus and Kanye West. Even though many young people are under the impression that molly is a “benign” or “innocent” drug, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Three deaths and multiple overdoses across two electronic music festivals in one weekend prove how dangerous molly really is.
What’s the Attraction to the Drug?
Molly is popular with young adults because it’s fairly easy to get and costs about $20 to $50, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other drugs. Also, molly is difficult to detect and is perceived as a low-risk drug that isn’t all that addictive or dangerous. Not only is molly believed to be pure, but also club drugs are responsible for less than 1 percent of drug overdoses, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.
Molly, like other club drugs, is generally not used on an everyday basis like cocaine or heroin. Instead, users take these drugs when attending a concert, music festival or rave to intensify the lights, music and energy. This is the attraction to the drug and why it’s commonly found among college students and other young adults looking to increase a night out partying.
What Makes Molly So Dangerous?
Molly is not a benign drug, no matter how many times people will say that it’s “pure” or “natural.” Natural does not make a drug safe, and molly is just another designer drug that is being made by illegal street chemists. They are constantly working on these substances to make them stronger, and this can come at the cost of their users. These chemists will cut the MDMA with other drugs and chemicals, so users have no idea what they’re getting.
It’s not just the other chemicals that MDMA is cut with, but what users are mixing molly with on their own. This club drug is often combined with marijuana, alcohol or pain pills. This makes the effects more pronounced and can create toxic side effects such as dehydration or heart failure. Also, this is the drug industry. Chemists aren’t afraid to add in substances that make the drug more addictive so that people keep buying. Bottom line: there is no “good” or “safe” batch of molly.
And, remember the low rate of emergency room visits from molly overdoses reported by the Boston Public Health Commission? In 2011, hospitals around the country reported over 22,000 MDMA-related emergency visits, which is a 120 percent increase from 2004, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. So, while molly overdoses may be small in comparison to other drugs, they are rapidly growing.
What Do the Recent Deaths Tell Us About Molly?
There are countless articles about the signs of drug addiction, but the recent concert deaths this past week paint a very different picture that we must take into consideration. These students were not your typical drug addicts. They were athletes and honors students. They had promising futures, healthy interests and supportive families. Chances are good that these young adults were not regular drug users; they simply took what they thought was a safe drug to intensify a night of fun.
To further complicate matters, many young people have taken molly with no harmful side effects, so they block out the few bad stories that are out there. They feel that those stories don’t apply to them, and they continue experimenting with molly. But, there is no safe way to use molly, period. The more popular the drug becomes, the more the drug industry gets involved in making new, stronger batches, some of which can be fatal.
As a result of the recent deaths and overdoses over Labor Day weekend, local authorities and health officials are pushing for more education to teach young adults and parents about the dangers of molly. What we can learn from these deaths is that no drug is safe, and that all families should be talking to their loved ones about the dangers that lurk behind synthetic drugs.