© Depositphotos.com/ Alexandru Chiriac
This message, which circulates via social media posts, the blogosphere and email, warns parents of the dangers of a drug known as "molly". The message tells a story of a mother who found the drug in her 14-year-old son's clothing.
According to the story, the boy later stole and crashed his mother's car while on a mission to procure more molly. The story laments youth culture's tendency to promote and glorify molly via song lyrics and advises parents to learn more about the drug and share the message as a means of raising awareness of the issue.
The core elements of the message are factual, as discussed below. However, the breathless, ALL CAPS, grammatically challenged, and convoluted nature of the story tends to significantly diffuse its effectiveness as a warning. Due to its styling, many recipients are likely to dismiss the message as just another dubious Internet warning and bin it without further thought.
But, hidden beneath the shouting and the panic, there are some truths worth heeding. Molly is a real drug. It is a powder or crystalline form of the drug MDMA. MDMA is widely known as ecstasy when sold in tablet form. Molly is thought by many users to be a more pure – and safer – form of ecstasy, although this belief is largely unfounded.
MDMA, whether taken as ecstasy or molly, is a popular drug at dance parties and raves. A Drug Policy Alliance report on MDMA explains:
People who use MDMA describe themselves as feeling open, accepting, unafraid and connected to people around them. Typically used in social settings, especially among the rave and dance club cultures, MDMA’s effects are stimulated by visuals, sounds, smells and touch. Some people experience nausea at the outset, but after about forty-five minutes, most people report feelings of relaxation and clarity. MDMA causes dilation of the pupils and, often, sensitivity to light. People using MDMA experience heightened sensations and want to intensify these feelings by dancing, talking and touching.The Drug Policy Alliance report also notes:
Most of MDMA’s potential harms derive from the setting of its use. Although few adverse effects have been reported, hyperthermia – a dangerously high increase in body temperature – is the most common problem related to ecstasy. Hyperthermic reactions result from physical exertion (such as dancing) in an overheated environment without replenishing fluids, which is why users take breaks and consume fluids like water or Gatorade.
© Depositphotos.com/ jean-louis bouzou
Given that MDMA is an illegal drug in most jurisdictions, there is no control over how it is manufactured or what additives it contains. These unknown additives can significantly increase the potential harm caused by the drug.
It is true that molly is often referenced in song lyrics. A music article on The Guardian notes:
Over the past year, zeitgeisty rappers such as Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky have increasingly made music with EDM artists, actively bridging the sounds and cultures between rap and dance, and Molly has emerged as the lyrical signifier of this relationship. Popular Southern rapper 2 Chainz has referenced it on multiple songs, including chart-topping hits Beez in the Trap by Nicki Minaj and G.O.O.D. Music's Mercy with Kanye West. But it was a newcomer from Atlanta, Trinidad James, whose celebration of Molly's benefits (libidinous behaviour) and downfalls (sweating) seemed to push the drug into the mainstream. His Molly song, All Gold Everything, went from self-produced free mixtape standout all the way to the Billboard top 40 in June 2012, and shortly thereafter led to a multi-million dollar deal with Def Jam Records NBA star LeBron James was caught on camera rapping along to the song's most famous lyric ("popped a Molly, I'm sweatin'") during a warmup.
Miley Cyrus, Madonna and many other performers have regularly referenced molly in various ways. But, drug references in popular songs are hardly unprecedented. For decades, the popular music of a time has referenced that time's drug or drugs of choice. The message implies that the music industry is actively promoting and encouraging use of the drug. While this might seem like a reasonable assumption, it could also be effectively argued that the music industry is simply reflecting popular youth culture trends and behaviours, just as it has always done.
It is unclear if the story describes a real boy and his mother, or is just a fictional construct invented to drive home the underlying message.
Moreover, the way the story is told implies that molly is something new and especially sinister. In fact, MDMA has been used in various forms for decades. Molly is not intrinsically worse than other forms of MDMA and, in fact, there are far more dangerous drugs available. And the warning focuses on just one variety of MDMA when other forms of the drug and, indeed, illegal drugs in general, are equally concerning, if not more so, for parents.
The take home message? Parents and guardians would do well to educate themselves about modern drugs of choice and their effects. And they should discuss such issues with their youngsters. But, sending on this over-the-top, confused, and narrowly focused warning is not a very effective method of raising awareness of drug related issues. Parents who feel compelled to alert other parents on the issue would be better to disseminate well researched, factually presented information about molly and MDMA such as that offered by the Drug Policy Alliance and many other credible drug information resources.
Last updated: July 18, 2013