The drug Molly is a powdered or crystallized form of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA), the active ingredient in the street drug ecstasy. Touted as a pure form of ecstasy, free from chemicals used to cut the drug and other toxic substances, it has been marketed as a “clean high” and a safer alternative to other drugs of abuse that are popular among party goers and rave attendees.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth, according to CNN. Citing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
only about 13 percent of the Molly seized by law enforcement in the state of New York over the last four years contained any MDMA at all.
When MDMA was found, it was often in combination with other illicit substances, most frequently, MePP, MDPV, methylone, pentedrone, 4-MMC, and 4-MEC.
Rather than being a pure form of any drug or a safe high, Molly is exceedingly dangerous and can contribute to a host of potentially fatal medical emergencies, including overdose and accident under the influence. Though use of the drug in small quantities can contribute to a high that many define as a feeling of love and harmony, using the drug too much or too often – or the wrong batch that contains a harmful mix of chemicals – can result in far from a harmonious experience.
Clubgoers and Molly
Molly is most prevalent in use among those who frequent the club scene, music festivals, and raves. Many people report that use of the drug enhances their experience of electronic music as well as live performances, and increases their ability to stay up and active for long periods of time listening to music. Use of the drug:
- Alters sensory perception
- Alters perception of time
- Increases feelings of warmth toward oneself and others
- Increases energy levels
- Increases the sense of pleasure
Both a stimulant substance and hallucinogenic in nature, Molly users report that their experience of music is enhanced by the drug – and vice versa. Unfortunately, there are a number of physical effects of using Molly, and if users do not pay attention to hydration levels, sun exposure, and toxic effects of other drugs, the result can be fatal.
Many clubgoers do not use Molly by itself. They combine use of the drug with use of other substances, including alcohol and marijuana, prescription pills, and more. This can increase the likelihood of experiencing extreme medical emergency under the influence and overdosing on the drug.
Effects of Molly
When Molly is ingested, it impacts the activity of three chemicals in the brain: norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. The effect on dopamine is likely connected to the high experienced by Molly users as well as the increase in energy and activity levels. The effect on norepinephrine is responsible for the increased blood pressure and heart rate experienced by Molly users. The effect on serotonin levels contributes to the sense of closeness and warmth felt by Molly users when under the influence as well as the crippling depression that often strikes after the drug leaves the system.
In addition to the high experienced by users of Molly, the drug can also trigger a host of physical effects, such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Jaw clenching or grinding of teeth
- Blurred vision
All symptoms, from euphoria to side effects, last for about 3-6 hours, depending on the other substances that the drug is cut with. The symptoms may last longer if the person takes a second dose as the initial symptoms begin to fade, as is commonly practiced.
It is important to note that the effects that kick in after MDMA leaves the system are just as significant and can be just as harmful mentally as the physical effects that occur when under the influence. In the days and weeks following use of Molly, users often experience:
- Extreme depression
- Insomnia or otherwise disrupted sleep
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of interest in sex
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Aggression and impulsive behavior
These mental health and emotional effects may be due to the MDMA in Molly as much as they may be caused by the other substances in the drug or other drugs used concurrently.
Dangers of Molly
The use of MDMA in any form, including Molly, can create a host of negative health effects in the user. For example, high doses of MDMA can make it harder for the body to regulate temperature, potentially causing a spike in temperature, which in turn, can cause liver failure, kidney failure, heart failure, and/or sudden death.
Additionally, because the use of Molly can foster a sense of false closeness between users and is often used in combination with Viagra, it can contribute to unsafe sexual choices made under the influence. This can translate into an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, such as hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.
Molly comes in powdered form, pills, or capsules, and all versions of the drug are heavily cut with other substances – substances that are unknown to the user. In samples of the drug seized by law enforcement, a range of illicit substances were found, including:
- Synthetic cathinones (bath salts)
- Over-the-counter cough medication
Users cannot know what will be in each dose of Molly. Even regular use is not a protector, since each batch is different. These chemicals can trigger medical emergencies on their own, cause complications with medications taken for the treatment of chronic or acute ailments, and can increase the likelihood of yet another danger of taking Molly: addiction.
Whether or not the key ingredient in Molly – MDMA – is addictive is a matter of ongoing debate. Some research on animals has shown that, after exposure to MDMA, many will continue to self-administer the drug but not necessarily to the same extent as seen in lab animals exposed to cocaine and other addictive substances.
It is important to remember, however, that Molly is not pure MDMA. Rather, it is a combination of unknown substances chosen due to their ability to augment and lengthen the high experienced by the user – substances that are addictive themselves. In fact, all of the substances listed above as common components in Molly seized on the street are addictive when used regularly and in large doses.
Many people who use Molly regularly report developing an addiction to the drug, as well as cravings not only for the high experienced but also for the whole experience of being at clubs, raves, or concerts and under the influence of Molly. It can be very difficult for those who recognize the negative consequences of use of the drug to stop taking it on their own, especially when they experience withdrawal symptoms associated with detox. These withdrawal symptoms (e.g., depression, difficulty concentrating, intense fatigue, and other issues listed above) can make it even more difficult to avoid use of Molly; thus, professional treatment is always recommended.
Treatment for Molly Abuse and Addiction
Whether or not the use of Molly has reached the point of addiction or not is immaterial if the individual is struggling on a personal level due to ongoing use of the drug and an inability to stop taking it. There are different levels of treatment available, depending on the nature of the problem, and people who are considering treatment for Molly use or addiction are encouraged to explore different options.
For example, some different types of treatment programs that may be appropriate for those who are stopping use of Molly include:
- Medical detox: Focusing just on the period of time immediately following cessation of use, a medical detox program is usually inpatient and short-term, providing concentrated support during the experience of withdrawal symptoms and medical care if necessary.
- Outpatient treatment services: Personal therapy, support groups, and a range of holistic and alternative therapies can help those who are hoping to turn their lives around after heavy drug use. Clients can opt for a single session per week up to multiple sessions per day at their discretion, creating a unique treatment plan that addresses their needs in recovery.
- Intensive outpatient program: An intensive outpatient program often provides five hours a day or more of therapies and other treatments designed to help someone who is struggling with drug abuse and addiction to remain drug-free and rebuild their life in recovery. Clients can return home each night but have the support they need every day they attend treatment to learn new coping mechanisms and start using them right away.
- Inpatient treatment: Inpatient care offers access to medical detox if needed as well as 24-hour therapeutic support. Connections with peers and the ability to immerse oneself in a healing, drug-free environment can be critical components of recovery for people who have long struggled with drug use and abuse.