What is Molly?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

molly pills
Oftentimes, ecstasy pills are color-coded and shaped with “cute” designs to attract unsuspecting youth.

Over the last few months, several people have lost their lives to a life-threatening substance called “Molly.” Does the name sound familiar? You may have heard it in the lyrics of a Miley Cyrus or Rihanna song… maybe you’ve even seen a picture or two on Instagram… but what is it and why are people dying from it?

Molly is a pure version of a drug known as ecstasy, which can be found at “raves” – parties with bright colorful lights, loud pulsating music, and lots of dancing people. The drug contains the active chemical known as MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which has many effects on the body.

Primarily, MDMA affects levels of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies related to sleep, mood, heart rate, and pleasure. When a person ingests ecstasy, their brains produce way more serotonin than normal and trick them into feeling unnaturally happy with the world. Some individuals even hallucinate – see and hear things that aren’t really there. However, ecstasy is often filled with a mix of other dangerous drugs, such as cocaine and heroine, so it’s hard to say exactly what the effects will be.

“There’s no ‘good batch’ of Molly, MDMA, Ecstasy,” said Anthony Pettigrew, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s New England division. “This is stuff that’s made in somebody’s bathtub in either Asia, the Netherlands, Canada, you have no idea what is in this stuff. Dealers want to make more money, so they’ll mix and adulterate the stuff with meth and any number of other drugs to addict people to it.” While it seems most people take Molly to feel the most happiness possible, not many like to think about the severe short- and long-term side effects that follow its use.

For example, people really love to dance when they’re high on ecstasy and work up quite a sweat. Couple this with the fact that ecstasy can raise body temperatures to a life-threatening 108 degrees, and dehydration becomes a huge problem. Now, some might say that’s nothing a simple glass of water can’t cure, right? Well, that’s where the problem comes in. Oftentimes, people are so focused on how good they feel, they don’t realize they’re thirsty, so they’ll just continue dancing and sweating until they pass out! In addition, MDMA increases blood pressure and heart rate, so as individuals move to the rhythm of the beat, they can strain their own hearts until it fails. This deadly potential for heart failure, heatstroke, and overdosing unfortunately leads to many deaths.

molly serotonin diagram
The white lines represent the levels of serotonin in the brain. On the left is the picture of a “control” brain, or the brain of someone who hasn’t taken ecstasy. Notice how much healthier the serotonin is in the control brain?

Now, suppose avid ecstasy users do manage to carry water around and take a break from dancing until the drug’s effects fade. Does that mean they’re safe? Of course not! In fact, MDMA has many long-term effects. Remember how the drug increases serotonin in the brain? Well, once a person comes off their “high,” the brain produces less than normal amounts, so people feel depressed and are unable to sleep at night. In addition, they have trouble with their memories and are left feeling confused. Overall, they are just not as happy, so they begin to crave more of the dangerous “feel-good” drug.

What’s worse is that raves are becoming more and more popular amongst young adults. Teens see their friends talking about going to a rave on Instagram and feel the need to attend one themselves. They blow hundreds of dollars on tickets just to go to rave and get high for the weekend. Plus, they hear Miley Cyrus say “we like to party… dancing with Molly” or Rihanna sing “as we moonshine and Molly… I see a vision of ecstasy” in their songs. With celebrity endorsement, the drug seems almost “cool.” However, this is really just the low-life kind of “cool.” You know, like how trashy Cyrus’s two-thumbs-down performance at the Video Music Awards was. Yeah, these ladies may be successful music artists and seem like the “girl power” kind of rebel, but at the end of the day, they’re just entertainers who will do anything for attention… and more importantly, money.

Please, don’t be a fool and take any ecstasy. You know what will happen if you do? You’re going to waste all your money on a drug or a party that will be forgotten about in a few weeks (since ecstasy affects memory), and the only thing you’ll be left with is brain damage and depression. You think it will be easy to focus on school and get a good job if you’re partying your life away? You think colleges will understand and give you a place at their school when there are many more drug-free applicants? Think again.

Featured image courtesy of pokpok313 on Wikipedia. Image of serotonin levels courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse.