The Health Center requested that The Bates Student provide the facts on Molly, an illegal drug, for the student body based on recent deaths caused by the drug at other U.S. colleges.
Molly: The Facts
Unfortunately, the start to the 2013-14 school year began with the news that there were at least three college student deaths associated with the use of the illegal drug known as MDMA, or “Molly.” Two of the deaths occurred to students from New Hampshire colleges. There is, to an extent, a false belief Molly causes a “harmless” high.
What Is Molly?
“Ecstasy” and “Molly” are slang terms for MDMA, short for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It has effects similar to those of other stimulants. “Molly” was a term originally used to denote pure MDMA, usually powdered and in a capsule. This is no longer the case.
Molly is often a «mystery powder» consumed with the intent to roll. Powdered materials can contain any number of substances, some which even mimic similar effects of MDMA. They can also cause severe health consequences ranging from allergic responses, deadly temperature regulation issues (hyperthermia), panic attacks, and exaggerated psychological symptoms.
What are the Effects of Molly?
For most people, a “hit” of MDMA lasts for three to six hours. Once the pill is swallowed, it takes only about fifteen minutes for MDMA to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. About forty-five minutes later, the person experiences MDMA’s “high.” That’s when the drug is at its peak level.
People who use MDMA might feel very alert, or “hyper,” at first. Some lose a sense of time and experience other changes in perception, such as an enhanced sense of touch. Others experience negative effects right away; they may become anxious and agitated. Sweating or chills may occur, and people may feel faint or dizzy.
MDMA can also cause muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Forceful clenching of the teeth can occur, and individuals at clubs have been known to chew on pacifiers to relieve some of the tension. Even if a person takes only one pill, the side effects of MDMA—including feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and memory difficulties—can last for several days to a week (or longer in people who use MDMA regularly). For people with preexisting mental health conditions, these side effects can be more severe.
What are the Risks of using Molly?
Many of the powders sold as Molly contain no MDMA whatsoever; others are synthetic concoctions designed to mimic the drug’s effects. Despite promises of greater purity and potency, Molly is now thought to be as contaminated as Ecstasy once was. In some cases, the substance believed to be Molly was actually bath salts. Because bath salts can be considered a substitute for Ecstasy, users who think they are taking Ecstasy sometimes unknowingly ingest bath salts. These are an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.
People using MDMA can become dehydrated through vigorous activity in a hot environment causing dangerous overheating (hyperthermia). This can lead to a life-threatening high temperature and serious kidney problems. MDMA can be extremely dangerous in high doses or when multiple small does are taken within a short time period. High levels of the drug can increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart’s ability to maintain its normal rhythms. MDMA causes the brain to release a surge of Serotonin leaving it depleted of this important chemical. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, side effects can include confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving and anxiety lasting for days or even weeks. “Suicide Tuesday” is the nickname given to the trend for people who use all weekend committing suicide when they fully come down from the high on Tuesday.
If you would like more information or to talk with someone about Molly or any other issue you may visit the Bates Health Center and sign in for a free, confidential visit.
For more information about the harmful effects of bath salts, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts.
Some of the material in this article is used with permission from the Alcohol and Health Education Dept., Tufts University.