What’s wrong with Molly?

As a somewhat introverted person, I can see the appeal of the party drug “Molly,” with its purported feelings of emotional warmth, empathy. It’s often associated with dancing and fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun?

Electric Zoo Festival

Electric Zoo Festival

And who doesn’t want to have hyperthermia, seizures, stroke, and kidney and liver failure while they’re at it? Uh, me!

Public health experts at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington say they’re seeing an increase in requests for information about Molly, which “fans” claim is a safer alternative to the party drug Ecstasy.

Don’t buy it — in any sense of the word.

“Since last spring, seven people attending dance concerts died with symptoms matching overdoses of MDMA (Molly),” said Carole Nowicke, reference specialist at the IPRC. “It sounds harmless, with a name like “Molly,” and references to the drug can go unnoticed. But the consequences can be deadly.”

I frankly felt naïve after reading some information shared by Nowicke about overt references to Molly in popular culture, particularly in rap and other song lyrics. Madonna asked a music festival crowd if they’d seen Molly, and then named her next album MDNA. Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus have sang about Molly.

Here are some examples provided by Nowicke:

“Do you know where I can find Molly? She makes my life happier, more exciting. She makes me want to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance … Please help me find Molly,” a blonde actress intones in a synthesized voice to Cedric Gervais.

In the chorus of Trinidad James’ “One More Molly”

I just popped a super molly
I just popped a super molly
She just popped a super molly
She just popped a super molly
She just won’t stop looking at me
She just won’t stop looking at me
We about to have a party
We about to have a party

Molly, or MDMA, is short for “3, 4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine.” Its use can lead to many of the health problems encountered with other amphetamines. Overdoses of Molly may lead to hyperthermia, seizures, rhabdomyolosis (breakdown of muscle fibers and releasing their contents into the bloodstream), kidney or liver failure, metabolic disturbances, hemorrhagic stroke or cerebral edema.

Because it manipulates serotonin, it can be particularly harmful to people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs for depression or anxiety. Mild serotonin syndrome symptoms are similar to MDMA use — agitation, confusion, sweating, headache, shivering. Severe serotonin syndrome can be much more serious with a high and irregular heartbeat, seizures, high fever (over 106◦F) and loss of consciousness.

Molly has a reputation for being a purer form of MDMA but in truth, consumers never know what they actually are taking because the drug can be mixed with other illegal drugs. Its effects can be altered when combined with alcohol, caffeine, prescription drugs or multiple doses. Nowicke said that water bottles, light sticks, or LED lights, languorous hair stroking, and sweating can imply Molly use.

I might be naïve, but our kids are learning about Molly — so I’m so glad that the IPRC is raising awareness.

In Indiana 6-12th grade students, 5.3 percent of 12th graders claimed to have tried MDMA in their lifetime, compared with 7.2 percent of students in a national sample. Indiana 12th graders reported in the IPRC survey monthly use of Ecstasy at 1.7 percent, compared to .9 percent in the national report.

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