People who take "Molly," the powder or crystal form of MDMA, the chemical used in Ecstasy, don't know what they are actually ingesting, experts say.
They warn many powders sold as Molly do not contain any MDMA.
"Anyone can call something Molly to try to make it sound less harmful," Rusty Payne, an agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) national office, told The New York Times. "But it can be anything." The DEA considers MDMA to be a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse, and no accepted use in medical treatment.
Dr. John Halpern, a psychiatrist at Harvard who has conducted several MDMA studies, said some powders sold as Molly are synthetic versions that are designed to imitate the drug's effects. The drug is now thought to be as adulterated as Ecstasy once was, he noted, adding, "You're fooling yourself if you think it's somehow safer because it's sold in powdered form."
Molly has been a popular drug at music festivals. It has also been popularized by rappers. The drug costs between $20 and $50 a dose.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says he now sees about four patients a month who come in with common side effects of Molly, including teeth grinding, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite and fever. More serious side effects can include uncontrollable seizures, high blood pressure, elevated body temperature and depression, the article notes.
"Typically in the past we'd see rave kids, but now we're seeing more people into their 30s and 40s experimenting with it," he told the newspaper. "MDMA use has increased dramatically. It's really a global phenomenon now."
According to the national Drug Abuse Warning Network, MDMA-related emergency department visits increased from 10,227 in 2004 to 22,498 in 2011.