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Friday, September 6, 2013

‘Molly’ User Says Testing Before Taking Is ‘A Necessity’



Molly is the colloquial name for the popular club drug MDMA, and implies a higher level of purity than ecstasy. It has been linked to five deaths at music events this summer, including one this past weekend at a Washington, D.C. nightclub.

Here & Now spoke with a doctor earlier this week who warned that molly can dangerously speed up the metabolism, leading to organ failure or heart attack in some cases. She said it can leave users feeling depressed after they come down from their euphoric highs, and she spoke of the longterm effects on the brain.

“Two out of three times that I’ve tested molly, it has turned out to be something other than what I thought it was.”

Many people who commented on the segment thought the warnings were overblown.

One molly user, who didn’t want to be identified out of fear he’ll lose his teaching job, told Here & Now he has safely gotten high on molly for several years.

“I heard the interview the other day, and although everything that was said was accurate, I thought that it was missing a little bit of context. For example, although it’s true that molly can cause dehydration or hyperthermia, the rate at which it is fatal is extremely low — depending on what studies you read,” he said.

So what does the molly-using community make of the rash of molly-connected overdoses?

“Within the culture, those are largely dismissed, and I think it’s a shame that they are because I think it does point to a real danger,” he said. “The perception that molly, you can take as much as you want and still be safe, makes people take far more than they need to, and it also means that they’re not being careful about testing things to make sure that that’s what they actually have.”

He tests drugs before he takes them, using a drug testing kit he bought online.

“I don’t think that they’re widely popular, simply because I don’t think a lot of people know that they’re available, and don’t understand that they’re really a necessity. For example, I think two out of three times that I’ve tested molly, it has turned out to be something other than what I thought it was.”




It's HERE AND NOW. Another concert-goer has apparently died from using the popular club drug known as Molly, this time in Washington, D.C., and concerns about Molly have prompted cancellations of two upcoming concerts in New England. Police in Boston think a bad batch of Molly is going around. Molly is a form of MDMA thought to be more pure than the party drug ecstasy, which is often cut with other things.

Earlier this week, we spoke with an addiction specialist, Dr. Marla Kushner, about her concerns about Molly. She said it can dangerously speed up metabolism, leading to organ failure in some cases, or heart attack. It can lead users feeling depressed after they come down from their euphoric highs; and she spoke of the long-term effects on the brain. We received a lot of response to that conversation at hereandnow.org from people who have used Molly and thought the warnings were overblown.

Well, joining us now in the studio is one user who doesn't want to be identified because of fears he will lose his job. He's active in the electronic music, dance party scene, where Molly is popular. Thanks for coming in.


HOBSON: So you've told us you want to debunk all of the misinformation you say you're hearing about Molly. Such as?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I don't know if I want to debunk all the misinformation. I want to say that I heard the interview the other day, and although everything that was said was accurate, I thought that it was missing a little bit of context. For example, although it's true that Molly, you know, can cause dehydration or hyperthermia, the rate at which it is fatal is extremely low - depending on what studies you read; the jury is still out, to some extent.

HOBSON: Well, what about these deaths that have happened in a very short space of time this summer?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right. So I think that within the culture, those are largely dismissed, and I think it's a shame that they are because it does point to a real danger. One number that gets thrown around a lot is something like 2 in 100,000 Molly users have a fatal experience. The fact that - or the perception that Molly, you can take as much as you want and still be safe, makes people take far more than they need to. And it also means that they're not being careful about testing things to make sure that what's they actually have.

HOBSON: Well, take us through your personal experience. How often do you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't do it particularly often. I do it maybe once or maybe twice a month, if I'm really out in the scene a lot. But I don't think that there are a lot of people who are doing it every day. Maybe there are some. But I think for the most part, it's considered a party-type of thing, not an everyday sort of experience.

HOBSON: And when you take Molly, how easy is it to get?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It depends greatly on your community. Some, it's difficult to locate someone who has it. However, if you're at a party, there's certainly someone who has it. There are ways of getting it other than that - on the Internet, or something like that. But those are not easily accessible, and I don't think it's done widely.

HOBSON: How old were you when you first tried Molly?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, I think I was probably like 22, perhaps. So I was actually on the older side of it. I think there's sort of a dual generation of Molly takers right now. There are some who started with ecstasy back when that was the drug and sort of moved into Molly as ecstasy became less widely available. And now, there's a new explosion of drug users with the new electronic music popularity.

HOBSON: So tell us why you do it. What is it that it does that you can't achieve through I would say a natural high, or just a normal state of being?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The interesting thing about Molly is that although you feel euphoric, it does not interfere with your objectivity very much. For example, I can recall being at a Dead Mouse concert, and I'm not a particularly big fan of Dead Mouse. I took some Molly, and although I was dancing, I also felt like the music was not particularly good. So it creates an atmosphere where you feel good about everything around you, but you're also capable of having real conversations with the people nearby.

HOBSON: Now, we heard the other day from Dr. Kushner about the effects that she was talking about, short-term and long-term, including, as you said, hyperthermia and dehydration, but also longer-term effects on the brain and depression afterwards. Have you suffered any of those?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, not to my knowledge. So the effects that she was talking about, the short term, the so-called ecstasy hangover; the idea is that two days after you take it, you might experience depression or something of that nature, but that passes fairly quickly. You do have some effects going longer into the week, but they're not strong. As for long, long-term effects, the research that I've read, as I think the doctor said, is - the research is still sort of - it's inconclusive on that.

HOBSON: Do you use these testing kits that are put out there to - I guess test the purity of the Molly that you have?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I do. They're easily available. You can get them on the Internet for not a huge fee. However, I don't think that they're widely popular simply because I don't think a lot of people know that they're available, and don't understand that they're really a necessity. For example, I think two out of three times that I've tested Molly, it has turned out to be something other than what I thought it was.

HOBSON: Did you take it anyway?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In one case, yes, and in one case, no.

HOBSON: How long do you think you're going to keep using Molly?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's hard for me to say. I think, you know, at the moment, I also DJ sometimes and I think - and it's part of the culture, and so it's hard for me to imagine a day that which I would just say never again. However, I suspect that as I get older and my life changes, I'll probably use it less and less. But it's not - I don't think of it as being something that's going to bar me from having a normal life.

HOBSON: Our guest is a Molly user who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job. Thank you so much for coming in.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thanks for having me.

HOBSON: Well, for a quick response now, let's bring back Dr. Marla Kushner in Chicago. Doctor, what do you make of what you just heard?

DR. MARLA KUSHNER: Yeah, I really appreciate his candor and honesty about the awareness of what's going on with Molly. My concern is especially for the younger new users of Molly who go to a concert. And they just decide to use it there, haven't prepared, don't know what to expect and then they encounter some of these consequences that we've been seeing in the news lately. The first time they're using it, they're not expecting to feel the way they do.

They're not staying hydrated the way they should. They're in the crowds. They're dancing. They're having a good time. And then the hypothermia could take over. Also whether or not they are on other medications or have a predisposition, that could lead to something bad happening. So that's where I'm very concerned.

HOBSON: Well, and we should, of course, remind people that this drug is illegal and obviously can be dangerous, as has been the case here. What would your message be, in just the 30 seconds we have left, to people who have just heard this conversation?

KUSHNER: Just again, to remind them that it is illegal, that there is no regulation of the medication. Even if you're doing a test kit, you're - it's not guaranteeing what you're absolutely getting and that it could be dangerous and could have a fatal outcome.

HOBSON: Dr. Marla Kushner, medical director at the New Hope Recovery Center in Chicago. Thank you so much.

KUSHNER: You're welcome. Thank you.

HOBSON: And we'd love to hear your thoughts on this and keep the conversation going at hereandnow.org or facebook.com/hereandnowradio. We're also on Twitter, @hereandnow. We'll be back in one minute, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Evan

    With all of the recent news regarding the misuse of substances in the EDM scene, a friend and I are starting a company to make sure we all stay safe while partying. Would love some suggestions and comments!


  • gordon_wagner

    MDMA is boring. That’s really all there is to it. Drink water — apparently people die of dehydration while using it! The DEA was typically wrong to put MDMA on its Schedule One list in 1984. MDMA has potential application in psychotherapy and PTSD. But it’s boring as hell as a recreational drug.

  • kate

    I am flummoxed that you invited a drug user to counter the report from a doctor. Next time you do a story on alcoholism, will you invite an alcoholic to share his opinion on drunk driving? This seems illogical, ill advised, and irresponsible.

    • Dale Holmgren

      Why is a drug user compared to an addict? When you use prescription drugs to feel better, are you automatically an “addict”? The comparison of a drug user as automatically equivalent to an alcoholic is a false equivalency. Putting this guy on is no different than putting on a user of wine with dinner to counter an argument that there are no safe uses for alcohol.

    • http://chasesfreebies.com/ Chase

      What is illogical is basing all of your facts on a source that has probably never experienced something. Are you going to ask a doctor what it’s like to fight cancer or someone who has actually had to deal with that battle? Doctors don’t know everything and I would rather talk to someone who has actually experienced said situation.

  • Ann

    I agree with “kate.” As a mother of 3 teenages who enjoy music and concerts, the anonymous drug user did nothing to dissuade people from using “molly.” The impression I am left with after listening to him is that “molly” really isn’t that bad a drug as it doesn’t cloud thinking, the post-use depression really isn’t that bad and using a test kit makes it safer. I think the interview with the drug user has done a disservice to the listening audience.

    • http://chasesfreebies.com/ Chase

      I think you are offended because the guy spoke the truth. Was he supposed to lie about his experience? News is supposed to get the truth and it sounds like this guy did give HIS truth. If you don’t want your kids doing drugs then talk to them about it. You can’t rely on the rest of the world to keep your kids on the right path.

  • jacartist

    One wonders if the user has asked why life is so awful that he needs to take this drug. Whether its safe or not.

    • N_Jessen

      Well, anyone who has ever taken drugs (illegal or not) throughout history, as a coping aid or as an enhancement of some aspect of life, could be asked why. Some just take it too far, to the point of potentially damaging their health.

  • FallenAngel in Spokane

    Molly is of No harm to anybody, just like Methamphetamine. What’s wrong with Magick to change our chemistry? Magick is Pharma which is Pharmacuetical… I will get too deep for you people to remember. If I take Meth I’m a Addict… Hmmm… but I am prescribed Adderall… and I”m not an Addict?? Pay to have your DNA checked and what pairs of Chromosomes you have. This will tell you of your so called “Super Power” that let you do things with of little to no harm. Most people can’t handle ACID (LSD) then why can I handle 4-5 hits at a time… I’ve even eaten 25hits so I wouldn’t go to Jail. ;) Oh, I know you will question my judgment and knowledge, so by the way….. I am a Network Administrators with Forensics as a underlying study along with currently Interning as a ParaLegal. Don’t you just love the Brain Chemistry!

  • dust

    this is a step in th right direction. i know this is a news station and this is a hot topic. it would be nice for once if some news program actually did some research and put someone on the news that is actually doing something with mdma like rick doblin phd. rick has been researching mdma for decades and is conducting fda approved phase 2 trials of mdma. mdma can save lives like the lives of the 21 iraq war veterans that kill them selfs everyday. where is the news on that. trying to shut down a music genre for drug use is idiotic. did the news try and shut down rock n roll because kurt cobain died of apparent heroin over dose ? mdma can be used in therapy to help advanced stages of cancer and to fight autism, derivative forms like doc have been found to kill cancer cells all together ? at least get the facts straight ecstasy and molly are the same thing period. the kids that just died took pma not mdma. molecules are being changed to circumvent the real issue and that is the law. so your kid goes to concerts my kid has autism. ask your self why all these kids are taking this drug. i took ecstasy and for the first time i could focus and make meaningful connections with people instead of being made fun of by my peers, it was the most moving experience of my life and changed it forever.

  • Roger

    Your follow up piece by a junkie questioning the doctor’s interview comment was quite dispicable. Since when did NPR started glamorizing the drugs, that too by inviting dopers to show how cool it is to take Molly? You guys hit new journalistic low today

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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