By: Paul Knoll, PhD
There’s an old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” And that surely applies to a drug called, “Molly.” Never heard of it, you say? Well, if you’ve been around at all, it’s made of the same ingredients that Ecstasy, the rave drug of the ‘90s was made from methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine or MDMA.
Although the drug has recently seen a rise in popularity and is suddenly being referenced by mainstream music artists ranging from Miley Cyrus to Kanye West, Molly has been around for quite awhile. The white pill is a Schedule 1 drug, in the same category as marijuana and heroin. Invented in 1914 by Merck Pharmaceuticals, it did not become popular until the 1970s when psychotherapists in California began prescribing it to patients to help them relax and become more sociable. In the 1980s and 90's, it hit the nightclub rave scene. It became very popular because it produced a sense of well being, closeness to others, and reduced anxiety. As the demand for the drug increased, street producers started mixing it with everything from aspirin to talcum powder to increase the supply. As a result, people lost interest in Molly until about ten years ago when it started making a comeback in a powerful new crystallized form.
Now, in hospital settings, we are seeing more patients coming in for treatment after they become addicted to Molly. Emergency rooms are also experiencing an increasing number of patients being admitted after using this drug. Side effects vary from teeth grinding, dehydration, increased anxiety, depression, seizures, hypothermia, high blood pressure and poor sleep. People have even died from overdosing on Molly. During the recent Labor Day weekend, three young adults died after abusing Molly at a New York music festival. Several others were hospitalized.
So what makes Molly so dangerous? First, it is rarely as pure as users may be led to believe. Researchers are saying street manufacturers might actually be adding PMA, a drug similar to Molly. PMA is molecularly closer to amphetamines, and doctors have said that past deaths blamed on Ecstasy, or MDMA were actually due to PMA.
Another danger is that Molly can raise a person’s body temperature, which, on a crowded dance floor, could lead to dehydration, heat stroke and even death. Mixing Molly with caffeine, alcohol or other drugs can produce even more dehydration, compounding the problem. Ironically, Molly can also make a person’s body retain water—so individuals drinking a lot of water might unbalance their electrolytes, again placing them at risk of seizure or even death.