She is the star of the show, the center of attention, and the life of the party. So who, or more importantly, what is “Molly”? Analogies aside, “Molly” is a common street name for the drug formally known as 3,4-MethyleneDioxy-N-MethylAmphetamine (MDMA). It has gained a considerable amount of popularity in the media over the past decade, evidenced by a frequent presence in song lyrics such as “Like moonshine and molly, feel the warmth we’ll never die, we’re like Diamonds in the sky” from Rihanna’s hit-single. More recently, the deaths associated with the use of the drug at the electronic rave festival, Electric Zoo, has sparked even more attention. Despite its pervasiveness in the media, many people are still unaware of what Molly really is and of the risks associated with its use.
“As ecstasy got me standing next to you/Getting sentimental…spillin’ guts to you”- Eminem, Drug Ballad ( 2000)
Fact: To anyone who has ever said, “I’m not doing Molly, I’m doing Ecstasy”, there is only a slight difference between MDMA and Ecstasy. MDMA is the term used to refer the “purer” form of the drug while Ecstasy is both a slang term for MDMA or a term used to imply that it is laced with another drug. Nevertheless, the two terms can be used interchangeably. All street names aside, MDMA is a man-made chemical compound and you can never truly know what’s in a cap, unless you’re the one making it.
“Let’s take it back to the first party, when you tried your first molly, and came out of your body” –Kanye West, Blood on the Leaves (2013)
Fact: As Kanye suggests, most MDMA users have reported an intense elevation in happiness and sociability. Brain chemistry experiments proved that MDMA use causes the elevations of 3 neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Serotonin is associated with mood, sleep, and appetite. The user generally feels social and friendly. Further along the reaction, oxytocin and vasopressin are released. These two hormones are responsible for love, trust, and sociable behaviour, which explain the happy, positive emotions one might feel after popping a pill. Users can generally expect to feel a decrease in negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, an increase in mental and physical euphoria, an increase in comfort level with social communication, and enhanced sensitivity to physical sensations such as touch. The effects of the drug can vary from person to person and the drug lasts between three to six hours.
“Popped a Molly, I’m sweating” – Trinidad James, All Gold Everything (2013)
Fact: MDMA is also a stimulant, so yes, that does mean it can cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating can occur. It is common knowledge to MDMA users to drink lots of water before and during use to prevent dehydration. This practice is based on both on the drug’s scientific properties and common sense as dance environments—where Molly is more commonly consumed—can be very hot. Hyperthermia, an extreme elevation in body temperature, is another common danger associated with MDMA use. Moreover, as ironic as it may sound, it is also important to avoid water intoxication. When your body sweats profusely for long periods of time, your body’s salt content can drop dangerously low which can cause death. To avoid this grim scenario, drink liquids that contain plenty of electrolytes to replenish the ones being lost.
Although song lyrics often reveal the characteristics of the drug, they do not offer information about MDMA’s dangers or negative side effects. Science, on the other hand, has a few tidbits you should know.
The surge of serotonin that occurs, although blissful at the time, depletes your reserves for a few days following use. This depletion can lead to depression, sleep problems, nausea, anxiety, and the possible craving of another cap (although no firm evidence suggests that MDMA is addictive).
Finally, following the events at Electric Zoo, the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not you can die from just one dose. Research suggests that the chemicals in the drug would not kill an individual but it can be deadly when combined with a hot environment, dehydration, over-hydration, or a pre-existing health condition (such as a history of cardiac problems). Pushing your body past its physical extremes is never healthy in any situation, and MDMA is no exception to this rule. Like most narcotics, MDMA has risks and high physical consequences which increase with the dosage.
Like all other drugs, if one chooses to indulge it’s important to take the cautious approach and not to expose your body to reckless amounts. There are various drug testing kits available on the market which test what is actually in the pill so you can trust in empirical evidence rather than just take someone’s word for what you are putting in your body.