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Molly, What Parents and Kids Should Know

Street drug Molly

There is a relatively new party member on the scene, and it’s known as Molly. For parents and kids who are not familiar with Molly or who think they know all about this latest drug, here are a few details you may want to discuss with each other.

What is Molly?

Molly is the crystal or powder form of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), the main chemical used in the street drug called Ecstasy. As is common with street drugs, whether it’s heroin, cocaine, marijuana, meth, or Ecstasy, users don’t really know what they are getting from their dealers or other suppliers.

In other words, these drugs are often laced with other ingredients that can completely change how a user will respond to the drug. In some cases, the response may not be harmful, but in others it may be permanently damaging or even deadly. Thus the use of street drugs like Molly is a game of Russian roulette that can end in death.

Ecstasy consists of MDMA usually laced with methamphetamine, caffeine, methylene-dioxyamphetamine, dextromethorphan, or other ingredients. Molly, on the other hand, is supposed to be pure MDMA, but it, too, is often tainted with these or other ingredients.

Although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists MDMA as a Schedule I drug, a classification that states there is no accepted medical use for this controlled substance, some scientists are conducting ongoing research into potential medical uses of the drug (see below, “Medical uses of MDMA”). It is critical to point out, however, that the research involves pure MDMA used in strictly monitored situations, which is far different than use of an uncontrolled, contaminated street drug.

A Schedule I classification also means there’s a high risk of abuse. Individuals who take MDMA as Ecstasy or Molly can experience paranoia, confusion, tremors, muscle cramps, nausea, sweating, blurry vision, depression, and fainting. In high doses, the drug can result in a rise in body temperature, which can then lead to kidney failure, liver failure, and cardiovascular damage.

As if the side effects of Ecstasy and Molly were not enough, kids usually take these drugs in a party setting that includes use of alcohol and other drugs. Thus a combination of these substances can be especially dangerous.

Between 2004 and 2009 alone, there was a 123 percent increase in the number of visits to the emergency room involving the use of MDMA taken alone or along with alcohol or other drugs, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. During the summer of 2013, four people died after taking Molly.

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Why people take Molly
Despite the life-threatening risks associated with the use of Molly, people who use the drug say they like how the drug makes them feel. Following an initial feeling of nausea, which can last for nearly an hour, people say they feel relaxed and unafraid.

The effects of MDMA are enhanced by sensory stimulation, so young people like to take Molly or Ecstasy at high-energy events. This is why dance parties and raves are popular venues for use of this drug.

Medical uses of MDMA
The fact that ongoing scientific research into legitimate medical uses of MDMA may reveal safe ways to use the drug does not lessen the fact that taking uncontrolled, potentially tainted doses is highly dangerous. Researchers are interested in MDMA because it has the ability to reduce fear and increase a sense of trust, which can be helpful in the field of psychotherapy and individuals who have serious psychological conditions.

A recent report published in Current Drug Abuse Reviews, for example, explored the use of MDMA in the treatment of substance abuse. The authors stated that “some people reduced or eliminated their substance use after receiving MDMA, especially in a therapeutic setting,” and that MDMA “could indirectly assist with the therapeutic process or reduce symptoms of comorbid psychiatric conditions.”

One of the psychiatric conditions being treated experimentally with MDMA is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent study reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology noted the long-term outcomes for a trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant PTSD.

Sixteen patients completed the follow-up, which ranged from 17 to 74 months after the final MDMA session. The investigators found that most of the patients who had not responded to previous treatments experienced symptomatic relief using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and that “no subjects reporting harm from participation in the study.”

Bottom line
Molly, MDMA, and Ecstasy are dangerous drugs, especially since users rarely have any way of knowing exactly what they are taking. Even if the first dose does not cause any serious health problems, the next one might.

Some users of Molly and Ecstasy argue that since MDMA is being investigated for medical use, the drugs are okay to use. However, there is a huge difference between playing Russian roulette with Molly as a street drug and using a pure substance in a controlled, therapeutic setting with experts, and that difference could be life or death.

Drug Abuse Warning Network
Drug Policy Alliance
Jerome L et al. Can MDMA play a role in the treatment of substance abuse? Current Drug Abuse Reviews 2013 Mar; 6(1): 54-62
Mithoefer MC et al. Durability of improvement in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and absence of harmful effects or drug dependency after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy: a prospective long-term follow-up study. Journal of Psychopharmacology 2013 Jan; 27(1): 28-39
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
The Partnership at Drug Free.org