Side Effects of Molly
The drug Molly may have a cute name, but this synthetic drug that has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties can have very dangerous effects. This form of of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) usually sold as a powder in a capsule is related is supposedly the “purest” form of MDMA; however, Molly capsules often contain other dangerous drugs and, in some cases, may contain no MDMA at all.
When ecstasy developed a reputation for being all-too-often adulterated with other substances and fillers, Molly was marketed by drug sellers as a pure form of MDMA that was safer than other forms of the drug. Researchers have found, however, that Molly is rarely pure and, even if it were pure MDMA, it still has the potential to produce dangerous side effects.
Brain Changes from Molly
Most of Molly’s effects come from increases in the activity of 3 neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Dopamine is often called the “feel-good” brain chemical. Molly’s influence on this neurotransmitter can increase feelings of energy and pleasure and motivate repeated use.
Increased activity of norepinephrine can raise blood pressure and heart rate.
Many of Molly’s effects (both desirable and unwanted) are said to be the result of its influence on serotonin, which regulates not just mood, but sexual behavior, aggression, sensitivity to pain, sleep, and memory.
Most often, users will ingest Molly orally. It takes, on average, 15 minutes to for the drug to enter the bloodstream, and the high usually peaks around 3 to 45 minutes after ingestion.
The high from ecstasy, or Molly, is often characterized by effects such as:
- Increased sense of alertness.
- Heightened energy.
- Enhanced sense of physical touch.
Most notably, Molly is associated with heightened feelings of love, trust, empathy, and sexual desire. This is due to the increased activity of serotonin in the brain that Molly initiates. The effects brought on by Molly typically last between 3 and 6 hours.
Adverse Physical Health Effects
While the ecstasy high may bring on feelings of love and desire, not all the effects are so pleasurable. A person can experience numerous adverse effects while intoxicated by MDMA. These effects include:
- Blurry vision.
- Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus).
- Tense muscles.
- Jaw clenching.
- Damage to teeth from grinding or clenching.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Rapid pulse and breathing rates.
- Hyperthermia (especially when dancing) which may result in life-threatening problems with the kidneys, heart, or liver.
- Heat stroke.
- Severe dehydration (increased risk when alcohol is consumed in combination with Molly).
- Electrolyte imbalances from excessive water consumption to combat dehydration.
- Swelling of the brain.
The Molly Comedown
As Molly drug leaves the body, the brain can suffer from depleted serotonin, leaving the user subject to:
- Feelings of depression.
- Irritability and aggression.
- Decreased motivation.
- Loss of appetite.
- Memory problems.
The physical and psychological discomfort of a Molly comedown could lead people to take more of the drug—often in a binge pattern (close, repeated uses)—to combat these symptoms, a cycle that could lead to addiction.
Some users describe the comedown from Molly as “suicide Tuesday” due to associated anxiety and depression. Ecstasy use is particularly troubling in the adolescent population, as evidence has shown that young people who abuse ecstasy attempt suicide at higher rates than adolescents who use no drugs or use other drugs but not MDMA.
- Problems sleeping.
- Problems concentrating.
- Impaired cognition.
- Depletion of serotonergic neurons in the brain.
- Risky sexual behavior resulting in unwanted pregnancy or STDs.
- Heart disease.
- Impaired ability to perform sexually.
- Impaired mental or cognitive ability, including poor memory or problem-solving.
Lasting Effects on Serotonin
Many substances of abuse can affect serotonin levels, but Molly is unique in the rapid changes to serotonin production it causes, which may be uniquely long-lasting.
Primates exposed only briefly to MDMA were shown to have a lowered number of serotogenic neurons 7 years later. Reduced serotonin contributes to the depression, anxiety, memory impairment, confusion, and anxiety that is common to chronic users of MDMA.
Overdose from Molly
An “overdose” on Molly, ecstasy, or MDMA may be a misnomer. The implication of the word suggests that it is possible to take a safe amount of the drug; however, even a “normal” dose of Molly could be too much, leading to heat stroke, dangerous dehydration, and heart damage, among other acute health conditions.
A common cause of death from Molly is heat stroke. MDMA-based drugs have been known to elevate body temperature up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. For adults, a body temperature around 100 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever while 103 is a high-grade fever; hyperpyrexia, or dangerously high fever, begins at 106 degrees. If Molly elevates the core body temperature to a high-grade fever, this can lead to internal damage. Hyperpyrexia can quickly cause damage to organs, potentially even liver or kidney failure.
Hyponatremia, or water retention, is a common but counterintuitive danger from Molly. While the drug can cause dehydration – also a dangerous side effect – water retention can lead to low sodium in the body, which can cause seizures and coma.
Molly may be a popular club drug, but the side effects are all risky. Taking the drug just once can be deadly; if a person abuses Molly consistently, they could suffer changes in their brain causing chronic depression and other mental problems.
Many of the effects of Molly are reversible with prolonged abstinence from the drug. If you struggle with an addition to MDMA, a rehabilitation program can help you take the first step toward your recovery.