Molly: what clubgoers say about the drug – and why officials are worried
Molly has been tentatively linked to at least four deaths at East Coast gatherings in the past two weeks. Despite the deaths, some in the electronic dance music scene are unapologetic about the use of Molly.
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“The idea ... about being able to cut loose and be someone else for the night couldn't be closer to the truth,” e-mails Keenan Hiett, a post-production editor in Los Angeles.Skip to next paragraph
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“I am aware of the dangers, and I think most people who partake are as well,” he continues. “I think the efforts to demonize it are short-sighted and unfair to the hundreds of thousands of patrons who are responsible with their use of MDMA, and it's a bit unfortunate that it's publicly starting to gain so much scorn.”
Public health officials say MDMA causes a surge of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Users cite increased energy and feelings of closeness and empathy, among other sensory distortions. The quest for this high among EDM enthusiasts means that festivals and concerts are rampant with the illicit substances.
“I mean, there might be some kids that bring stuff with them to use or to sell, but the common idea is, you don’t bring sand to a beach,” says Matthew Walcott, a former student at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H. “There’s no reason to, because there’s crazy, crazy amounts of drugs everywhere.”
The deaths and the cancellation of EDM shows like Electric Zoo have sparked a chorus of tweets and social media conversations among enthusiasts – some calling for restraint, others lambasting the “kiddies” who show no control as they pop Molly after Molly.
“I noticed this year, and the first year I went to Camp Bisco [an annual EDM festival near Albany, N.Y.], but this year especially, there were a lot of people complaining about kids that were just going for, not even the music, just going to do drugs and searching for the next high,” Mr. Walcott says.
Yet national surveys have not indicated a major shift in consumption of MDMA in the past couple of years, says Wilson Compton, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “That said, drug abuse takes place in local communities, so the national trends can mask some very severe problems that can be taking place in multiple local regions around the country,” he says.
“So we’re certainly concerned about reports that we’re hearing in different locations, about complications and side effects of these synthetic agents,” Mr. Compton adds.
MDMA is not as addictive as other drugs, including alcohol and cocaine, but the surge of serotonin can result in severe depression, muscle tension, faintness, and blurred vision, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It can produce increased body temperature, and “some people can die from the equivalent of heat exhaustion brought on by the excess activity under the influence of this substance,” Compton says.
Even so, sobriety is rare at EDM festivals, most attendees say.
“Being at a club while sober is strange because no one around you is really aware of what's happening around them. So you are getting bumped into and sweated on while just trying to enjoy the music,” says Derek Robinson, a college-age pastor’s son and full-time intern at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Md.