The US drug culture has a renewed romance and the name of its muse is Molly. She has been courted by many for many years, and seemed to have gone into hiding for awhile. But now she has new suitors all over the country. She is no longer exclusive to the rave kids. She is no longer discriminated against. All man and womankind are her type.

Christopher Griffith, DETAILS, 2012

Molly used to go by the names of Ecstasy, MDMA, Adam or more scientifically – 3,4 methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine. She is more popular than ever. Back in the 70’s, when Molly first made news as a medication given by psychotherapists to get patients to open up, she was wholesome and pure. Not anymore. In fact, Molly isn’t at all the girl we knew growing up. Although some believe that the new Molly is safer, purer, and socially acceptable, going out with Molly is always a blind date.

As blind dates often go, you can’t always recognize Molly by the description given. 

In the late 80’s, Molly was known as ecstasy or XTC or Adam. It was popular in the New York City nightclubs. By the early and mid nineties, everyone in the Big Apple was using it. Rave party-goers, Wall Street traders, and art gallerinas (art gallery assistants). Once this chic new drug known for feelings of euphoria and sensuality, spread from the Big Apple to the rest of the country, demand increased. With this arrived more dealers and more ways to adulterate the drug to produce it cheaply. MDMA was being cut with caffeine, speed, ephedrine, ketamine, LSD, talcum powder and aspirin, to name a few. Not long after, around the new millenium, Molly’s reputation landed her fewer and fewer dates. For awhile she ashamedly went into hiding.

Back then, Molly wasn’t known as “Molly.” She was known as ecstasy, XTC, Adam, or MDMA. Part of the drug’s recent comeback is the name. It has been re-invented as something purer; something cleaner. The name is derived from molecule. Molecules make up the ocean and the atmosphere. What is more natural than that? So Molly is back because she tricked naive prospects into thinking she’s pure again. Hippies love her. The Electronic Dance Music (EDM) crowd and ravers are back in her arms, and even the hip hop community has invited her into the crew. She used to be a tablet. Now she’s a powder. Many seem to think the powder form equals purer. But can we trust her again? How do we know this isn’t one of her many veils?

The truth is, unless the user is extremely savvy or the source is undeniably trustworthy, you never know what you’re getting with Molly. That’s where she becomes dangerous.

Supposedly pure “Molly” sometimes actually contains other drugs instead or in addition. Those may include ephedrine (a stimulant), dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), ketamine, caffeine, cocaine, methamphetamine, or even, most recently, synthetic cathinones (the psychoactive ingredients in “bath salts”).

“The No. 1 risk with MDMA is drug substitution,” says Julie Holland, a New York University psychiatry professor who has run trials investigating MDMA’s therapeutic potential. “Out on the street, you can never be sure of what you’re getting.”

Robert Glatter, an emergency-room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, reported in a 2013 New York Times Article that he used to go months without hearing about Molly; now, he sees about four patients a month exhibiting its common side effects, which include teeth grinding, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, fever and loss of appetite. (More dangerous ones include hyperthermia, uncontrollable seizures, high blood pressure and depression caused by a sudden drop in serotonin levels in the days after use, nicknamed Suicide Tuesdays.)

Nationally, the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that the number of MDMA-related emergency-room visits have doubled since 2004. It is possible to overdose on MDMA, though when taken by itself, the drug rarely leads to death, Dr. Glatter said.

Before the “purification” and unveiling of this seemingly safer Molly, mainstream culture ignored the drug. Now it seems popular musicians are singing about it at every turn. From bubblegum pop singers like Miley Cyrus to legendary diva Madonna, and even Rap Moguls Jay-Z and Rick Ross. Everyone wants to serenade the new girl on the block. Jay-Z, whose lyrics deliver, “I don’t pop Molly, I rock Tom Ford (an expensive fashion label)”, is the only of these examples not promoting or glorifying the drug’s use. But still he recognizes its pervasiveness and contributes to it.

Let’s examine others’ examples and their possible effects…

Miley Cyrus – an idol to millions of adolescent girls across the world – sings in her song entitled, We Can’t Stop: “So la da da di we like to party/Dancing with Molly/Doing whatever we want.” Teens attend her concerts in droves.

Madonna named her 2012 EDM-charged album MDNA. On stage at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami that same year, she asked the crowd: “Has anyone seen Molly?” She later claimed it was simply a song about a girl named Molly. Ok, Madonna.

Rapper Rick Ross belts out: “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

Rick Ross is nicknamed “The Boss.” I hope no one actually follows his orders. He should add a G to his surname and alter his first, because that lyric is Sick Gross.

Because its thought to be purer, natural, and with the “in” crowd, Molly is back and more popular among a variety of groups, from 15-49. Its not just for the ravers and club kids these days. Artists, hipsters, urbanites and even professionals – of all ages, are using Molly. And they think its safe.

“Typically in the past we’d see rave kids, but now we’re seeing more people into their 30s and 40s experimenting with it,” said Dr. Glatter. “MDMA use has increased dramatically. It’s really a global phenomenon now.”

The world once turned its back on MDMA, XTC, ecstasy, or Adam. Molly under those names was unveiled as as risky – often impure, unsafe and therefore unpopular. Maybe its time to recognize that the new Molly is just the same old perpetrator with new lipstick.

After all blind dates rarely go well, don’t they?

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