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Partying With the “Molly” Drug: Remember the Drug Ecstasy?

Partying with “Molly” sounds harmless—the name invokes images of your teen’s peppy study partner or a high school cheerleader. But the recent string of Molly drug deaths and overdoses prove that Molly, a form of Ecstasy, is much more serious than its cheery pseudonym.

Over the weekend, Electric Zoo, a multi-day music festival in New York City, shut down following the deaths of two young concertgoers, and four others left in critical condition. Police revealed that the commonality between the six was Molly. Molly is a form of MDMA, which is the active ingredient of Ecstasy.

Some Molly Drug Facts:

Molly is short for “molecule,” a nickname which invokes the idea that the drug is the purest and simplest form. Whereas past varieties of Ecstasy—it’s been around since the 1970s—contain caffeine and other amphetamines, Molly is supposedly free of any other ingredients. It goes for $30 to $50 a dose and often takes the form of white powder, so the user can never really know what goes into its manufacture. In fact, those in trouble often find that the manufacturers of the Molly party drug have  combined the drug with PMA, a similar amphetamine that can result in overdose. In 2011, more than 22,000 emergency room visits involved MDMA.

Molly raises the user’s body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Concertgoers at music festivals like Electric Zoo commonly use it to exaggerate the effects of the music and environment. Most users are recreational. They’re teens and young adults who want to amplify their experience. They are unaware of the effects of Molly drug abuse. These environments are crowded and hot. The heightened body temperature makes users more prone to life-threatening heat strokes as they dance for hours. Other Molly side effects include dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, and fever. And as the party drug wears off, the social closeness and intimacy can turn to depression.

Popular culture is bringing Molly into the light as a go-to party drug. Artists from Miley Cyrus to Kanye West sing its praises. And teens who are looking to have a fun night are at risk for fatally overestimating Molly’s ability to show them a good time.

This article was updated in September 2015.

Samantha Zabell

Samantha Zabell just graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism.