Call it what you will, 'molly' not harmless

It is all just fun, until someone dies or is raped or is caught up in a cycle of depression and drug-induced euphoria, the comparatively mundane responsibilities of school or work suffering as a result.

A new study published Monday in the Journal of Pharmacology, authored by Dr. Michael C. White, head of the University of Connecticut's Department of Pharmacy Practice, contained more alarming information about the popular recreational drug MDMA, which goes by the street names "molly" or "ecstasy."

Use of the drug is often associated with electronic dance music festivals, enhancing the intensity of the pulsating synthetic sounds and frenzied light shows. MDMA is a form of amphetamine, but also has hallucinogenic properties, increasing physical responses to touch, sight and sound.

Deaths caused by heat stroke and dehydration have been associated with the use of the drug, as dancers energized by the amphetamine forget to drink and fail to realize they are overheating. Dr. White's research found other danger points.

The drug enhances production of the hormone oxytocin, tied to the human affinity for creating strong emotional bonds, such as between a mother and child. In the madness of a dance "rave," this can short circuit judgment and lead to sexual assaults.

Dr. White - who reviewed three dozen studies on the drug published over the last decade - also found a link to depression, which tends to hit a few days after use. This can encourage a cycle of reuse - and starting the weekend early - to recapture the euphoria.

Then there is the danger that users can't know for sure what they are really taking.

Many young people, and adults for that matter, will find some way to get high and won't be dissuaded by warnings from studies. However, anyone who dismisses MDMA as a harmless, fun drug is already detached from reality.

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