“Molly” isn’t your teen’s friend, but the drug that goes by that name may be a classmate or TV buddy, so it’s time to get to know the new killer on the block.
Drug street names are to teen culture as drugs are to concert goers, addictive and potentially dangerous because they serve the dual function of marking our kids socially as both “cool” and open to trying drugs.
“Molly," slang for molecular, is the pure crystalline powder form of the popular club drug MDMA, which, in pill form, is known as ecstasy and is often mixed with other substances, such as caffeine,” according to USA Today.
The drug made headlines over the Labor Day weekend after New York's multiday Electric Zoo Festival (EZoo) was shut down because two young people died of suspected Molly overdoses, USA Today reported. A similar incident also took place at Boston’s House of Blues last week, another suspected Molly overdose death.
I have noticed that drug dealers appear to be getting smarter about what they name their products, which makes them blend more easily into conversation undetected.
Drug culture has saturated the lives of teens via mature shows like "Breaking Bad," which seems to have become a slang phrase generator of epic proportions. For example, my sons, ages 18 and 19 watched the AMC show Breaking Bad online and began making cultural references in front of our two younger boys, ages 14 and 9.
Teens of all ages watch shows and distill the words via a chemical process akin to a mental meth lab, taking away only the crystalized nuggets which they then pass around at school and other social settings.
For younger kids, speaking these buzz phrases earns "street cred" and acceptability for being privy to subject matter far beyond their life experiences.
However, when you talk the talk others may expect you to walk the walk.
A favorite saying quickly became the quote from "Breaking Bad" character Jesse Pinkman, a meth-head young adult who partners with his former high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, to producer crystal blue methamphetamine.
Jesse famously said in one episode, “We flipped a coin, OK? You and me. You and me! Coin flip is sacred!”
In teen-speak it became simply, “Coin flip is sacred!”
Then there’s the ever-popular line from the drug-addled character Badger: “Nazi zombies don't wanna eat ya just 'cause they're craving the protein. They do it 'cause, they do it 'cause they hate Americans, man. Talibans. They're the Talibans of the zombie world.”
Teen-takeaway is just, “Nazi zombies!” This is applied to anything viewed as bizarre or creepy in life. I suspect a healthy chunk of the Urban Dictionary is the result of "Breaking Bad."
Our whole household was saying “Coin flip is sacred” for months before I decoded the origin last Spring when another parent sent me a message that her kids referred to mine as “druggies” because of their phrases.
My sons returned from school to see me at the door with arms folded.
It’s amazing how many confessions this look can produce – who broke my headset, one son was late with a paper for school, but no drug revelations.
Then I told them about the other mom’s concern and they all went blank before they all erupted with responses.
“It’s from 'Breaking Bad'!” said Ian, 18, laughing. “You know, Walter White, Jesse, Badger?
“Seriously? You thought we’d be that insane,” said Avery who was scandalized by the accusation.
“I didn’t break anything!” wailed Quin, 9 who burst into tears. Later he would come to me and ask, “Can I watch the show the big boys were talking about, with the badgers?”
Then I watched the show, which I admit is both brilliantly written and addicting, but not to ever be watched by anyone under the age of 18.
At the end of the day it’s definitely a reminder to listen when our kids speak and do a bit of checking on where those buzz-phrases are coming from. We want our kids to speak themselves into being chemistry teachers, just not the Walter White variety.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly identified HBO as the network that airs 'Breaking Bad.' The show actually airs on AMC.