ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Molly can be cut with: anesthetics like dextromethorphan or ketamine, psychoactive substances such as “Bath Salts” or methylenedioxyamphetamine, and stimulants such as amphetamine, caffeine, cocaine, methamphetamine. What dangers do these pose? We review here. Then, we invite your questions at the end.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: Less than 10 minutes.
Table of Contents:
- What is Molly
- How Does It Affect the Brain?
- What Drugs Are Sold as Molly?
- Dangers of Molly
- Dangers of Its Substitutes
- Basics for Treatment
- Where to Find Help
- Your Questions
What is Molly?
So, what is Molly…in its pure form?
3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is the primary chemical found in Molly. It’s a synthetic substance known to change one’s perception and state of mind. People who take Molly find that its effects are comparable to stimulants (such as cocaine) and hallucinogens (such as LSD). When you’re high on Molly, you can expect to feel:
- Change in perception (awareness of environment and condition)
- Distorted auditory and visuals
- Emotional warmth
- Heightened energy
- Strong sensations of pleasure
People generally take Molly at clubs and dance parties (a.k.a. raves). It’s usually taken through a capsule or tablet, but some people take it in its liquid form, or snort it. Sometimes people will also take it with other drugs to further promote the effects.
But how does Molly affect the brain? And where are the risks for health and addiction involved?
How It Affects the Brain
Since Molly increases the activity of these neurotransmitters, it also blocks off their natural reproduction. Without the drug, the body experiences a deficit and difficulty producing these chemicals on its own. During this “crash” period, the brain and body will experience withdrawal. If repeated frequently, this is the cycle of addiction.
The big difference between MDMA and other drugs is it creates more of a psychological and emotional addiction rather than a physical one. This means that some people can depend on Molly in order to cope with certain emotions or to handle various forms of mental health. With that in mind, let’s take a look at other drugs that people claim to be Molly…but that have even higher addiction potential.
What Drugs Are Sold as Molly?
◦ Dextromethorphan (DXM – can be found in cough medicines)
- Psychoactive Substances
◦ “Bath Salts” (a synthetic cathinone
◦ Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA)
All of these drugs not only augment the effects of the Molly but can also increase harm to your health. In fact, the biggest risk is that you can’t 100% know what’s in the drug you’re taking. And many of the drugs listed above hold great potential for harm.
For example, let’s take a look at “Bath Salts”. These are human-made chemicals known as synthetic cathinones. Usually appearing in the form of white or brown transparent powder, this psychoactive drug is relatively new to the public. It’s created in a home laboratory using a variety of ingredients and techniques which change over time. On the streets, “Bath Salts” are advertised as a cheaper alternative to drugs such as Molly.
It’s important to understand that the effects of “Bath Salts” on the brain and body aren’t entirely known since not enough research has been done as of this time. What we do know is the effects are very similar to that of other amphetamines. Like Molly, there’s a rise in certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Furthermore, “Bath Salts” also produce hallucinations similar to MDMA. However, instead of leaving the user with a sense of euphoria, “Bath Salts” are known to cause extreme delirium which, in turn, leads to other health complications such as:
- Ability to put oneself in dangerous situations
- Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue
- Kidney failure
Even more so, people will cut “Bath Salts” with other substances. So, if a drug dealer gets their hands on these synthetic cathinones and wants to cut it with their Molly, there’s risk of the “Bath Salt” already containing other chemicals.
This is where taking Molly becomes extremely dangerous and, in some cases, deadly. When someone enters a club with the intention of getting high on Molly, chances are they aren’t getting pure Molly. The person distributing at these clubs could also hand out other drugs and label them as Molly to bring in more customers.
Dangers of Molly
The short-term effects are what will happen while on the drug or within a small period after the drug’s high is over. Often the “crash” to follow is so intense, people take a second dose in order to avoid these negative effects. The short-term health problems involved in MDMA are:
- Blurred vision
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Muscle cramps
The long-term effects are what will happen if Molly is abused over a period of time. For one, the body can become used to the chemical structure of the drug and, therefore, need it as a means of feeling normal. Without the drug, you can expect to experience:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased sexual desire
- Memory and attention complications
- Regulation of body’s temperature (which can result in heart, kidney, or liver failure).
- Sleep problems
As you can see, the health problems caused by MDMA are primarily psychological. This is due to the fact that Molly causes a psychological addiction more so than a physical one. Signs of a Molly addiction include:
- Compulsivity to use the drug on a daily basis.
- Putting oneself in dangerous positions just to obtain or use Molly.
- Give up prior interests for the sake of getting high.
- Failing to meet responsibilities (i.e. school, work) due to Molly use.
- Developing a tolerance to Molly.
Danger of Molly Substitutes
Since there are so many other substances which Molly can be cut with, it’s impossible to identify all the health risks involved in each particular Molly batch.
The following information is what NIDA has reported as the most common health harms caused by Molly or Molly substitute use. This information is based on both MDMA and potential cutting agents associated with the drug.
- Cardiovascular System
When people use Molly for a long period of time, there have been many instances of cardiovascular issues including:
◦ Abnormal heartbeat
◦ High blood pressure
◦ Increased chance of stroke or heart attack
- Changes in the Brain
As mentioned, Molly primarily affects a user’s psychology. With that in mind, people can develop a variety of mental complications due to using too much of the drug. These include mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, and difficulty with attention, memory, or problem-solving.
- Heightened Body Temperature
Almost immediately after taking Molly, your sympathetic nervous system is affected. This system is responsible for a variety of bodily functions and, therefore, dangers aren’t simply attached to the sympathetic nervous system itself. Some of the complications involved are:
- Kidney Damage
- Liver Damage
- Mood Swings
Along with changes to the brain, heavy Molly users will most likely have mood swings due to the lack of natural neurotransmitters the drug has produced. Without the drug, their brain’s wiring won’t allow for “good feelings” unless one is under the influence. Therefore, people struggling with a Molly dependence can expect to feel a euphoric openness while high, only to face an intense depression with lingering hopelessness while not high. As time goes on and abuse continues, the mood swings hold a strong potential to worsen and become an even bigger problem.
- Physical Dependence
It’s mentioned above that physical dependences due to use of Molly aren’t as likely as a psychological one. However, they’re still possible. Since a tolerance is built in long-term users, there are ways in which the body is affected. Primarily, through the way in which Molly affects the mind. For example, if the brain becomes depressed due to a lack of Molly, the body might become fatigued. Again, physical dependence is much less when comparing Molly to other drugs, but it’s still a factor.
- Substance Abuse Disorder
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a substance abuse disorder is when a person recurrently uses drugs which, in turn, cause significant impairment to functionality and one’s health.
Basics to Treatment
1. A Medical Assessment
Within a reputable treatment facility, a doctor will test you and ask a variety of questions as a means of collecting information on your current condition. Through this, he/she will have the ability to offer you the best treatment path for your needs.
2. A Medical Detox
During detox, you’re going to experience Molly withdrawals. This is the body and brain removing the chemical structure of MDMA from your system as a means of redeveloping your natural, organic chemical structure – a state known as homeostasis. When it comes to Molly, it usually only takes around 2-4 days to withdraw. However, duration of withdrawal also depends on the severity of your addiction. People who use a higher dose and have been for a longer period of time are more likely to experience longer withdrawals. Common Molly withdrawal symptoms include:
◦ Lack of motivation
◦ Loss of appetite
◦ Physical exhaustion
◦ Trouble concentrating
After detox, your mind will still consist of cravings and have trouble functioning without the sake of Molly. Though this happens with every addiction, it can be more prominent in MDMA due to the fact that it’s such a psychologically addictive substance. The purpose of psychotherapies is to teach you how to handle everyday emotions and life stressors without needing Molly. You’ll also be educated on techniques to reduce cravings.
Furthermore, talk therapies hold great importance because, as mentioned, people who struggle with an MDMA addiction often develop mental health issues as well. If you’re experiencing any kind of disorder due to your Molly abuse, it will be addressed during this stage and afterward. These therapies come in a variety of forms, including:
◦ Family therapy
◦ Group therapy
◦ Individual Counseling
4. Pharmacotherapy (Medications)
People who enter treatment are sometimes offered medication as a means of easing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. Though, it should be noted there are currently no known medications to properly treat Molly addiction. In order to find out if any medications can benefit you, you’ll want to consult a doctor. For example, short-term use of antidepressants may be appropriate. Or, in some cases, anti-psychotics may be required. This is why full assessment is crucial before treatment begins.
5. Educational Sessions
Addiction treatment often includes formal and informal meetings where you’ll be informed about the dangers of MDMA addiction and how to prevent relapse. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers should educate you on how your brain responds to certain drugs. This helps you avoid the chemical high in the future.
Where to Find Help
From there, you can begin researching different types of treatment programs and their requirements. Through this, you can figure out which one is best for you. If you want a more precise search in terms of psychotherapist and counselors, you have these internet searches at your disposal:
- Addiction doctors (find an ABAM specialist near you)
- Psychotherapists and counselors (find an APA psychologist member near you)
- Psychiatrists (find an ABA psychiatrist near you)
Furthermore, keep an eye out for support groups either outside or within your treatment program. The people involved in these will help you along the recovery process and make sure you stay sober.
If you need to reach out to someone immediately, here are some hotline numbers to contact:
- Drug Hotline: 877-736-9802
- National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI): 800-729-6686
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hope Line: 800-475-HOPE (4673)
- National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service 800-622-4357
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
- Substance Abuse Helpline (available 24/7): 800-923-4327
- Relapse Prevention Hotline: 800-RELAPSE (735-2773)
When you’re ready to look for treatment, we’re always glad to help! Feel free to give us a call.