At the College, “Molly,” the slang term for the allegedly pure form of the illegal drug MDMA, is sometimes considered benign — a high without health risks. But “Molly” is not always who she seems.
“Because it was pure MDMA, it made me feel like it was safer,” said a junior journalism student who has used the drug. “I think that there is no harm in it.”
Formed in 1912, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug. The stimulant, used for psychotherapy patients in the 1970s, is the active ingredient in ecstasy, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The nickname “Molly,” short for molecule, gained widename recognition when celebrities, including Kanye West and Miley Cyrus, referenced the drug. The term is sometimes used to refer to methylone and mephedrone, substances similar to MDMA.
While ecstasy is usually a mix of MDMA and drugs like caffeine and LSD, “Molly” is advertised as straight MDMA, earning the reputation as a “safe drug.”
“It makes you look crazy and feel awesome. Your eyes bug out and you do really crazy stuff,” said a sophomore nursing major who took “Molly” at a blacklight show.
“I’m afraid of liking it too much,” she said. “I don’t want to rely on it.”
MDMA releases serotonin, the chemical that controls mood swings and sex drive. Music sounds better, lights shine brighter, and dealers promise a night to remember.
“In a club setting, where there are lots of attractive, friendly people and music that promotes dance, all you wanna do is dance and look at the lights,” said a senior English major.
The euphoria may come at a price. Many doctors have expressed concerns about MDMA. The stimulant initially causes blurred vision, involuntary teeth clenching and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
“I think the key phrase with Molly is that it’s not addictive,” said a senior criminology major. “People think you can stop at anytime, but that’s not always the case.”
As with other drugs and habits, users can become addicted to MDMA if it is used regularly. Long-term use can cause memory loss, depression, insomnia, paranoia, psychosis and organ damage.
“It can be deadly, as we have seen from E-Zoo,” said a senior international studies major.
Last year during New York City’s Electric Zoo music festival, two people died of apparent MDMA overdoses.
MDMA interrupts the body’s ability to control temperature. On a busy heated dance floor, the addition of MDMA has led to fatal cases of hyperthermia. Research of the side effects is still ongoing.
But dealers are rarely concerned with the authenticity of their products. Students said that they got the drug either through a friend of a friend or from dealers at concerts.
“The people who are dealing these drugs at shows don’t give a shit what’s in the drugs,” said a senior English major who used a test kit before taking drugs sold to him.
Produced in tablets or powder forms of varied shapes, sizes and colors, “Molly,” the so-called “pure” drug, is often laced with other substances. LSD, heroin or cocaine are repeatedly found in “Molly” capsules.
“I parachuted it, but I also snorted it,” said a junior math major who enjoyed “Molly” the first time she took it in powder form. Her second experience was not as positive. She mixed the drug MDMA with alcohol and the prescription drug adderall.
“I sat in my room thinking, this is horrible, I’m too fucked up,” she said. The effects wore off hours later.
Mixing substances can be a dangerous business. Combining MDMA with other substances drastically increases health risks.
“When we push ourselves chemically, we put ourselves at risk physically,” said Joe Hadge, the Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP) director at the College.
According to Hadge, records show that MDMA is not as prominent on campus as some students may think it is.
“We tend to overestimate,” he said. “If five people come back from a party, we think 20 people did. That doesn’t mean it is not happening.”