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If you look at the news, listen to lyrics in both rap and pop culture or listen to urban slang, chances are that you have heard the name ‘Molly’ before. While the name ‘Molly’ seems innocuous enough, it is short for 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. The stimulant is often used in all-night parties, one of the reasons it has been dubbed a ‘club drug’. However, while club drug might insinuate that this illicit substance is going to do nothing but provide a ‘good time’ for those people who take it, the reality is far harsher than that.
The drug stimulates the release of serotonin from our brain. This brings on pleasurable sensations that can last a long time. The entire drug experience (from the moment of taking the drug to being back to ‘baseline’) is approximately four to six hours. The substance has a relatively quick onset, often kicking in anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes after ingesting the tablet or snorting the powder. The plateau where the sensations of the illicit substance are at their most obvious remain between two and four hours. The results then begin to fade away gradually for an hour or two until they are no longer noticeable. This is often accompanied by undesirable feelings such has physical exhaustion or mental confusion.
The environment in which the user takes it, the purity, the dose and the person taking the substance may all determine the rewarding effects. It is capable of giving the user increased energy and an enhanced feeling of self-confidence, an enhanced sense of pleasure and the psychedelic effects include increased feelings of empathy, acceptance and peacefulness.
Even though the immediate physical reaction might not necessarily be dangerous, there are a number of reasons that using MDMA is not without risk. When taken exclusively and purely, MDMA is relatively safe. According to research from The New York Times, between 1997 and 2000, there were two reported deaths attributed to the use of this substance. However, that is assuming the drug is pure:
Those who abuse MDMA long-term may experience the same issue that those who abuse cocaine and amphetamine face. This includes physical and mental dependence on the substance. As previously mentioned, MDMA negatively affects brain serotonin neurons. Serotonin is believed to play an important role in regulating appetite, sleep, memory and mood. While one study only noted limited cognitive decline in users, other research suggests that continuous heavy use may lead to persistent memory problems.
The psychological effects may include paranoia, anxiety, problems sleeping, depression and confusion. This may continue for weeks after the user last ingested the substance. Some of the physical effects include the aforementioned increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, chills, faintness, blurred vision, involuntary teeth clenching and muscle tension. The majority of users (60 percent) report experiencing withdrawal symptoms after long-term use. These withdrawal symptoms include trouble concentrating, depressed feelings, loss of appetite and fatigue.
One of the problems with MDMA and young adults is the fact that it is very much glamorized in popular culture by many of the pop stars and rap stars that young adults look up to. Even though the resurgence of the drug in the United States is often attributed to the return of Electronic Dance Music, some of the most popular pop stars today including Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have mentioned ‘Molly’ in at least one of their songs. Interestingly enough, MDMA has also become a drug of interest for rappers. Many references to the drug appear in songs from Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Rick Ross and Gucci Mane.
Even though ‘Molly’ may be the hip drug at the moment, the truth is that while it may have a relatively innocent name, there is no way of knowing that a user is in fact ingesting pure 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Understanding the associated risk and possibility of complications should go a long way towards making people aware of the fact that this is not innocent or ‘just fun’.
It is important to understand that while long-term studies are not available (mainly because of the classification of the drug by the United States government), the results that we have seen all point towards MDMA having a potential to be habit forming. Especially because it helps people socialize at a time when more and more people are living their lives virtually, it increases the odds that someone would become dependent on this substance in order to feel social.