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The terms ecstasy and molly are traditionally used to refer to the drug MDMA, which is short for 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. MDMA is a club drug that also goes by the nicknames, “E,” “XTC,” “Adam,” “love drug,” and “X,” among others. It usually comes in the form of a pill or a capsule, which users take using a practice called “bumping”–oftentimes in party settings.

MDMA is a synthetic, man-made drug that, once consumed, only takes approximately fifteen minutes to reach the brain via the bloodstream, and forty-five minutes for the high to kick in. Effects from the drug can last anywhere from three to six hours, and can include hyper-alertness, clenched teeth, higher heart rate, nausea, sweating, chills, anxiousness or agitation, panic attacks, higher risk of seizure, faintness, dizziness, changes in perception (such as blurred vision or an enhanced sense of touch), and dehydration (which can lead to hypothermia and in extreme cases, death). Even up to a week after taking the drug, symptoms such as anxiety, memory loss, or depression may persist–especially for regular users of the drug. Addiction to MDMA is not uncommon. It is difficult, however, to predict whether particular individuals will become chronically addicted to the drug prior to taking it, as this can be influenced by several factors, such as a person’s genetics or living environment.

There has been resurgence of the drug MDMA in the past decade. In recent years, a distinction has been made (primarily by users of the drug) between the drugs ecstasy and molly. A claim has been made that molly is in fact the purest form of the drug MDMA, while ecstasy is often mixed with other drugs such as amphetamines, PCP, or cocaine. Because of the supposed purity of molly versus ecstasy, it was implied that the drug was a safer and better alternative.

However, recent information has been discovered that oftentimes, the drug that is presented as molly in fact most often does not contain any MDMA and is usually mixed with other chemicals and drugs. Instead, molly is usually comprised of a mixture of lab-created chemicals. The formula for molly is constantly changing, making the drug extremely dangerous for users, as they can never truly know exactly which toxic chemicals they are putting into their body. Additionally, the room for error is greater because the drug is measured in such small increments (usually micrograms), and users are at greater risk of taking a potentially lethal dosage.

Although Congress passed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act in July of 2012, chemists of these synthetic drugs are constantly altering the formula of molly in order to sidestep the controlled substances included in the legislation. This makes it difficult for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to regulate the creation and sale of the drug, as they are constantly encountering new chemical compounds.

Some attribute the rise in the use of the drug molly to its rising prevalence in popular culture, with artists such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and Miley Cyrus mentioning the drug frequently in their music. Many cite this as an urgent problem that needs to be addressed, as synthetic drugs are the fastest-emerging drug category in the United States and first-time users are usually between the ages of twelve and seventeen. The illegal market for these synthetic drugs has now become a multi-billion dollar industry.

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