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The danger of Molly and friends

A new, purer and more potent form of the club drug MDMA - going by the name Molly - is leading to a greater risk of abuse and overdose.

If you plug the word “Molly” into a search engine, not all the results you’re going to find have anything to do with women named Molly.

Instead, you’ll find information pertaining to what appears to be an up-and-coming club drug that could have dramatic and negative public health ramifications.

Molly, short for molecule, has been dubbed a “purer” form of ecstasy and, according to a recent report by CNN, the drug is becoming more prevalent in the 16 to 24 year-old crowd at summer music festivals and the overarching music industry.

Dave Ferguson, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, says the “purer” connotation surrounding molly stems from the high percentage of MDMA (or 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, a modified methamphetamine) contained within the drug.

MDMA alters serotonin function in the brain in order to cause the feelings of empathy, warmth, euphoria, and closeness it is known for. It also alters levels of adrenaline and dopamine in the body. Altered enough, the body will adapt to what it sees as a permanent change and stop producing the amount of serotonin it needs to function. This can lead to a kind of fall-off or depression – temporary or permanent.

Essentially, drugs like molly change brain chemistry.  Worse – it’s doing it faster than club drugs like ecstasy, which aren’t nearly as pure.

Molly’s sister drug ecstasy is notorious for being laced with additives ranging from caffeine to the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM). Ferguson says molly is known for having fewer additives and two to three times the amount of MDMA as ecstasy.

While users rely on that extra potency for a faster, more intense high, the extra potency also equates to a higher risk of abuse and overdose.

“If a drug such as molly is now being supplied in a very pure form, the path to addiction is sped up,” said Ferguson. “Users aren’t building up to higher drug potency, they’re starting there.”

Ferguson’s message: stay away from Molly and each of her friends.


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