Good Golly, Miss Molly

Teens at Dance PartyLast month, 12 students from Wesleyan University in Connecticut were hospitalized after having Molly.  In 2013, 20 spring breakers in Texas were hospitalized after consuming Molly laced cocktails.  Who is this “Molly” that they speak of?  She doesn’t sound like a very nice person.

For those in the know, Molly (short for “molecule”) is an illegal drug.
Most people feel that Molly is just another name for the psychedelic drug Ecstasy (officially 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA).  However the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says only 13% of the Molly seized in New York over the last 4 years actually contained any MDMA, and even if it did, there was often other drugs mixed in.  In other words, even if you think you’re buying one substance, it may be a totally different substance that you’re ultimately getting and putting in your body.  However, to keep it simple, I am going to use Molly and Ecstasy/MDMA interchangeably in this post.

What’s the big draw? MDMA acts as both a stimulant and a hallucinogenic. It causes a surge of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and leads to feelings of high energy and euphoria. MDMA is known as a “club drug” because of its popularity at night clubs, dance parties, concerts, and music festivals.  It’s also fairly popular with high school students due to perceived safety and its relative ease of obtaining. Over 8% of high school seniors have tried ecstasy.

Many people feel that MDMA is a “safe drug” with minimal side effects.  According to the most recent Monitoring the Future study, the perceived risk of MDMA use has decreased over the past 10 years.  Even Miley Cyrus says that it’s safe, and who am I to question Hannah Montana? I mean, seriously.

However, just like all substances, there are potential risks. Psychological effects of MDMA include confusion, anxiety, depression, and paranoia. These effects may last weeks after ingestion.  The physical risks of MDMA include dehydration, elevated body temperature, and increased heart rate.  There can be more serious side effects including seizures, heart rhythm abnormalities, or coma.   There was a 123 percent increase in the number of ED visits involving MDMA. There have even been reports of death related to ecstasy use.

There is also an increased vulnerability to sexual assault with MDMA use: Ecstasy causes individuals to feel extreme relaxation and increased social-connectivity with others while also increasing sexual arousal and sensitivity to touch (a scene from the 90’s flick Coming Soon comes to mind). As with many drugs, when under the influence of MDMA, people decrease their inhibitions and are less likely to be able to sense danger.

The message: Talk to your kids about drugs (ALL drugs). It shouldn’t be one big talk, but a series of talks over time (and start early – over 8% of teens admit they tried marijuana before the age of 13, and nearly 20% of teens state they tried alcohol before 13 years old. Ask them what their thoughts on drugs are and be completely honest with what your expectations are for your child. Be the parent, not the friend! If they have not experimented with drugs (yet), praise them for this and ask how they would handle a situation where someone is pressuring them to try drugs. If they have experimented with drugs, be open and nonjudgmental. Most importantly, let your child know that they can come to you with any concerns and you will give them your full attention.

If you are concerned that someone you know has a problem with Molly or any other drug, talk to your healthcare provider. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) also has a helpline that provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental health and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889