View All Articles

Have you talked to your teen about the drug called "Molly?"

March 03, 2015

You may have seen the recent news reports detailing the hospitalization of 12 people (10 students and 2 visitors) at Wesleyan University due to the popular drug called, “Molly.” If it’s been a few years since your college days, the name ecstasy or “X” may sound more familiar to you. Each of these nicknames, however, are referring to the same drug: a chemical substance known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA.

When we talk about drug abuse, most of us think that it could never happen in our home or affect our children. Hopefully, we’re right about that. But the frightening reality is that our mental image of hardened criminals on the street using MDMA isn’t an accurate picture. It is often used by average kids, kids just like ours. MDMA is prevalent on college campuses and some high schools, often used by teenagers and college students in clubs, at house parties and in dormitories.

Before we can educate our kids, we must know the facts ourselves.

MDMA is a synthetic drug, meaning that it is man-made in a laboratory (I use the term laboratory loosely; it’s probably more like the T.V. show “Breaking Bad” type of scenario). It is made in the form of a powder and pressed into a tablet. It can be a plain white tablet, or colored with designs, logos or words on it. The drug can also come in the form of a capsule.

Understand why your child may be attracted to this drug

In its pure form this chemical is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. People are drawn to this drug for its ability to give them increased energy, feelings of euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others and enhanced sensory perceptions. They may choose to take this drug at a club where the sensory input from loud music, people dancing close with one another and flashing lights become an overwhelming sensory experience. Or they may choose to take the drug with friends in a more intimate setting, as it can make them feel loving and affectionate with one another. Still others take the drug to enhance their sexual experience with a romantic partner.

Part of the popularity of this drug lies in the misperception that it is relatively safe. The story kids hear from their friends is that it makes you feel really good, but it isn’t as dangerous as other “hard” drugs. They hear that it will just make them happy and help them have a good time.

Also, to take MDMA you don’t have to smoke anything, shoot any needles or snort anything. It can be an easier transition for first-time drug users because the act of using it appears no different than taking an aspirin. Not to mention, teenagers recognize that it doesn’t make them smell like smoke or alcohol, making it more difficult to get caught by their parents.

Know the dangers of taking MDMA

While the attributes of this drug appeal to a lot of people, what many don’t know is the danger involved. Because the drug is synthesized in a laboratory, you never really know what you’re going to get. The drug can be mixed with any number of fillers (to make the dealer some extra cash) and any number of other chemicals and drugs. This type of drug is sometimes called a “designer drug” because it can be custom-made to include just about anything. However, the consumer has no way of knowing what it is, what strength they are getting or how it will affect their body. There is no guarantee if you tried it once that it isn’t something completely different the next time. It is a dangerous gamble each and every time you pop that pill. 

The truth is that MDMA is a very dangerous drug and can even be life-threatening. The amount of drug that it takes to have the experience that kids are after is very close to the amount that it takes to harm someone; there’s a very narrow window where you can get the effect you want without getting hurt. Many people aren’t able to achieve that.

When it is mixed with other drugs, there can be all kinds of complications, making identification of the drugs and treatment very difficult. However, even without other drugs involved, MDMA can cause an unsafe increase in heart rate and blood pressure. It also can render the body unable to regulate its temperature, resulting in hyperthermia, which can lead to liver, kidney and cardiovascular problems and death. The drug also can cause severe dehydration, irregular heart rhythms, seizures, or bleeding in the brain, which can all be fatal.

Long-term issues arising from the use of MDMA are less well-known but can include drug addiction, psychological disturbances, depression, problems with sleep and memory. Since MDMA is often closely linked with sexual activity and tends to decrease inhibitions, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is also a serious concern.

Talk to your kids before they take the risk

Don’t assume that your teenager or college student will know better. Don’t let the voices of their peers be the only thing they hear about this dangerous drug. Bring it up with them and let them know the real risks of using MDMA. Remind them that people just like themselves have died the very first time they tried the drug. Let them know that you understand that they want to have fun and try new things, but this just isn’t worth the risk.