"Molly" Blamed As Ecstasy-Related ER Trips Double In Six Years
In rather un-ecstatic news, young adults on E are packing the nation's emergency rooms: Ecstasy-related trips (the kind not intended) to the ER for people under 21 have more than doubled between 2005 and 2011. With visits increasing from 4,500 in 2005 to 10,000 in 2011, it's a quick reversal in the numbers since 2001, which showed ecstasy use decreasing. After 1999-2001, when the drug went mainstream, "we've had this six-year quiet lull... and now we've got a whole new generation of young people who are being marketed a new product under the name 'Molly,'" said Steve Pasierb, CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Ecstasy is the pill form of MDMA, whereas molly is the powder form. Health-wise, neither are great: An overdose swings the user from ecstasy, as it were, to depression, paranoia, anxiety, and confusion. It's classified as highly addictive (and, um, illegal) by the Federal Drug Association.
A study from Germany's University of Cologne indicated in July last year that popping just 10 pills per year could lead to immediate memory impairment. In another study looking at pregnant moms on ecstasy, "Researchers said the MDMA users also faced more 'job, health and social problems' than non E users." Surprise!
The funny thing is, even with the 128 percent increase in ER visits and the hey-ecstasy-is-bad-for-you studies and the much-covered deaths at various music festivals (NYC's Electric Zoo in August was shut down after two deaths and four hospitalizations) and clubs (House of Blues), there's been a long-standing rumor that the drug is safe and doesn't kill "on its own".
Reports of deaths were largely skated over by E proponents, who dismissed them as due to a bad batch: Because ecstasy is often laced with other drugs (there was a huge rise in meth-laced E in 2009, one of the years ER visits were tracked,) it was easy to hold what the pill was laced with as accountable for the deaths. Even cops in Boston said in September that the death and "rash" of hospitalizations was due to bad molly, the powdered form of the drug.
In 2011, the last year that the ER visits were measured, research was being pushed about whether psychedelic drugs like ecstasy could be used to treat legit medical ailments, including post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans. Ronald Cowan, a researcher looking into the toxicity of ecstasy, noted:
It's essential that we understand the risk associated with using Ecstasy. If news keeps coming out that MDMA is being tested therapeutically and is safe, more people will tend to self-administer the drug. We need to know the dose at which this drug becomes toxic.
Post-2011, psychedelic drugs still aren't legal for medicinal purposes, but they live on at raves and dance clubs. This year, the numbers don't look to be going down: The powdered form, Molly, got a lot of attention this year as the hot new drug. Besides the fact that it's incredibly easy to find at almost any music festival, part of the drug's popularity could be due to the fact that Molly is also a pretty versatile drug: For those averse to snorting their drugs, its gel-cap form can be swallowed, and it can also be mixed in with booze, like a super-potent vodka Red Bull.
Molly is also meant to be the 'purest' form of MDMA (note: it's still not good for you), which makes the drug seem safer. "You knew you were getting the real thing and nothing but the real thing," Nathan Messer said. "Because people knew that (molly) was trustworthy, it became the go-to thing."
It's just a little telling that the it's-totally-fine-man attitude about MDMA hasn't quite left the rave circuit: Messer is the chairman of the board for the nonprofit organization DanceSafe, which "promotes health and safety within the nightclub community". But the powdered form could make Molly a lot easier to mess with.
"When it was in a finished pill, it was difficult to tamper with," Pasierb said, who is not entirely right about that. "But now that it comes in a powder form, you might have an unscrupulous dealer who cuts it with speed or some other substance."
As much as the media loves to blame the media, it might have a point this time: Molly's gotten a lot of coverage this year thanks to pop culture party stars like Molly -- sorry, Miley -- Cyrus, who came off as pro-Molly in a Rolling Stone interview: Molly makes you happy and social, she said. But coke is apparently passé: "It's like, what are you? From the Nineties? Ew." (God, get with it, ravers). As she so eloquently puts in her new song, "Feelin' Myself":
Now everybody trippin' like they popping Molly / Up in the club is where you find me / I do it real big never do it tiny / If you 'bout that bulls--t please don't remind me / I step in this motha, motha, just to make it work / I get on the floor just to make that booty twerk / Shake, shake that s--t like an expert.
It's Cyrus' third reference to Molly. In "We Can't Stop," she talks about "dancing with Molly.". And in "Ain't Worried About Nothing," she sings: “Popped a molly and you know, you know you'll never stop, you think I'm turnt up, wait until my album drops."
Let it be known, however, that Jay-Z — that seminal figurehead in Cyrus' classic 'Party in the USA' — would rather "rock Tom Ford' than "pop Molly."
But then there's Madonna:
Madonna took to the stage to introduce an artist, the pop star asked the audience: "How many people in this crowd have seen molly?" A slew of cheers answered, though Madonna later said she'd been referring to a song, not to an illegal drug.