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Molly: The “Love” Drug

Molly is the pure, crystalline form of MDMA, also known as ecstasy. MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is a psychoactive drug that has properties similar to both amphetamine, a stimulant, and mescaline, a hallucinogen. Molly is particularly popular among adolescents and young adults involved in the nightclub or rave scene, but it’s used by a wide range of people. The street names for molly include “X,” “E,” “Adam” and “Bean.” In 2011, law enforcement officials seized nearly 174,000 doses of MDMA, which was considerably less than the 1.9 million doses seized in 2012, an indication that the availability and use of Molly may have peaked. Data from both the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that the number of people who started using molly in the past year declined from 1.1 million in 2009 to 922,000 in 2011.

The Effects of Molly

Molly, short for “molecular,” is typically sold in capsule form and is taken by mouth, producing feelings of increased energy, emotional warmth and euphoria and distorting perceptions of time and the senses. The high lasts between three and six hours, and it’s common for users to take a second dose once the first starts wearing off.

How Molly Affects the Brain

MDMA increases the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. It causes the release of a large amount of serotonin, which then triggers the release of hormones associated with love, sexual arousal and trust. This surge of serotonin depletes the brain’s stores of the chemical, causing confusion, depression, insomnia and anxiety within a few days or weeks after the drug wears off. Heavy users often experience these aftereffects for the long-term.

Is Molly Addictive?

While research shows varying results concerning the addictiveness of Molly, some users may become addicted, which is characterized by using Molly despite negative consequences. Tolerance may build up, requiring higher doses to get the same effects, and this can lead to dependence, which is characterized by cravings and withdrawal symptoms when the drug use discontinues.

Health Effects of Molly

In addition to Molly’s often-devastating effects on brain chemical balance, Molly can cause a number of physical health problems. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure are commonly seen with Molly abuse, and nausea, blurred vision and chills may occur. High doses interfere with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, and in rare cases, this can lead to hyperthermia, or a sharp, dangerous increase in body temperature. Kidney, liver or cardiovascular failure and death may result in rare cases. Taking repeated doses of molly in short periods of time can lead to high levels of the drug in the bloodstream and increase the risk of seizures and arrhythmia, or an abnormal heartbeat.

Signs of Molly Abuse

Determining whether your teen is abusing molly can be difficult, since there are no clear symptoms of use. Heavy use can interfere with sleeping patterns and cause confusion, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Your teen may have a sore jaw from clenching it involuntarily, another effect of molly. While using molly, your teen may appear to be in a trance-like state and show intense displays of affection. Paraphernalia associated with molly abuse includes pacifiers and lollipops, which help prevent the involuntary teeth grinding caused by the drug. Many users attempt to over-stimulate their senses with glow sticks and mentholated rub.

Treating Molly Abuse

Molly can cause serious physical and mental problems with prolonged or frequent use. If your teen is abusing molly, treatment can help. During treatment through a high-quality inpatient or outpatient rehab program, your teen will identify the issues behind the drug abuse and identify harmful ways of thinking and behaving. He’ll learn to replace these unhealthy thoughts and behaviors with healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Through treatment, your teen’s self-esteem and sense of purpose will likely improve, and a psychoeducational component of the treatment protocol will address the realities of drug abuse and help your teen understand the real and imminent dangers of using any psychoactive substance. If you’re worried about your teen’s drug abuse, call us at 877-466-0620 to discuss your concerns with an addiction professional and determine what your next move should be.