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Molly, Another Name for Ecstacy

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Molly, Another Name for Ecstacy

partying at nightclub.jpgThis summer saw some alarming news on the drug front. I should say a lot of alarming news on the drug front. When I first saw an article on a drug called Molly, popular among a swinging New York crowd (swinging meaning partying as opposed to another definition), I thought it was a new drug combination. But no. It’s “pure MDMA, the ingredient typically combined with other substances in Ecstacy pills.” (The name Molly comes from “molecule.”)

And where did I find this article? In the health section of a newspaper? No, in a Styles section, because Molly has made its mark in our pop culture. The author began the article with an incident at one of the NY parties, in which a 22-year-old took some of the drug. The young woman said it makes the user very happy—“You just feel really upbeat and want to dance or whatever.”  Then she encountered it at a dance and at a birthday party.

Here it is September and Molly is still going strong. On Labor Day, as I was proofreading this post one final time, I saw a report from the Associated Press on how New York City recommended that an electronic dance music festival end early this weekend because two festival-goers died and several were hospitalized as a result of drugs. (The festival founders complied.) The autopsy results were “inconclusive,” according to the article, but MDMA was strongly suspected.

My son first told me the news after seeing it online yesterday. “You know that electronic dance music that’s so popular?” he asked Ironically, I had just interviewed a New York DJ who plays in the NY clubs, so I do know. My son went on to tell me that drugs, which can be prevalent among aficionados of this music, resulted in two deaths at this event. He’s 23, the same age as one of the people who died.

The first article, from The New York Times, related that Merck patented Ecstasy in the early 1900’s, and in the 1970’s psychotherapists administered it to patients to get them to be more open. Hard to believe. Ecstacy infiltrated NY clubs in the next decade, and by the 1990’s it was “the preferred drug at raves.” Wall Street traders have embraced it, and people who like to hang out in the tony, artsy neighborhood of Chelsea. (Yet, a Drug Enforcement Agency spokesperson said they have found Molly being used in Jackson, Miss., too.) We’re talking about people in their 30’s and 40’s, not the kids who frequented the raves.

In the last ten years, Ecstacy has re-emerged as Molly, which, since it’s a powder form of MDMA, is supposed to imply it’s safer and more pure. And a new cadre of professionals is liking it. They’re also arguing that, much like many people say about marijuana, it’s not that bad for you. 

Yet it’s sending users to the ER. (Overall, visits to the ER due to Molly have doubled since 2004). One ER doctor in NY reported seeing about four people a month who had used the drug, because there ARE side effects. (Whoever thought they could get off easy with this or any drug?) The side effects listed in the article include dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, teeth grinding, loss of appetite, and fever. Then there are the more dangerous effects: seizures, high blood pressure, depression, and hyperthermia. There’s even an unfortunate name attached to Molly—Suicide Tuesdays, the result of a precipitous “drop in serotonin levels.” According to WebMD, some experts believe a deficiency of serotonin can lead to depression. 

Some blame the drug’s popularity on the ubiquitous return of E.D.M, electronic dance music associated with the songs of stars like Rihanna. And oh, now I get the reference—Madonna was roundly criticized for asking fans who had come to hear her if they had “seen Molly.” Yet she said she was referring to a friend’s song. Rappers, too, are mentioning Molly.

Molly costs from $20 to $30 an ounce, according to the article, and the D.E.A. spokesman interviewed said that a large amount of it comes from Canada and the Netherlands.

The FDA has approved studies that hope to determine whether MDMA can be helpful for treating “post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in terminal cancer patients.” But as with so many drugs, the people taking Molly for social purposes have to be careful that what they’re taking is adulterated. It’s been found to be mixed with other substances, which should come as no surprise.

For all of the users who talk about the great highs and how this drug is “more respectable” than others, there are a number of users who are sounding the alarm. It’s still a hard drug, said one woman, and you can get very sick. (Unfortunately, you can also die.)

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