Experts: Drug molly is not a safe form of ecstasy - WNEM TV 5

Experts: Drug molly is not a safe form of ecstasy

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Miley Cyrus is one of several recording artists, including Madonna and Kanye West, who reference "molly" in their songs.

So what does it mean?

Molly, also known as MDMA, is actually a party drug - marketed as a pure form of the designer drug ecstasy.

But the euphoria-producing molly, usually sold in powder form, can be very dangerous.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, nationwide there were more than 22,000 MDMA-related emergency room visits in 2011.

That's a 120-percent increase in just seven years.

"It's sort of an old drug with a new twist," said Shelly Mowrey with drugfreeaz.org. "That's what molly really is. It's a sister drug to ecstasy."

MDMA is ecstasy's main ingredient.

It has been around since the 1970's, only surging in popularity in recent years.

While molly, short for molecule, is touted as being safer - Mowrey said it's not.

"That's kind of one of the selling points of molly, if you will - that it's the purer form of ecstasy; it's safer," she said. "And that's absolutely not the case; because it can be cut with other drugs just like ecstasy can and cause death."

Even if it's not tainted with other drugs, MDMA can be deadly.

In fact, there have been three reported overdoses of molly in just the past week at music festivals on the East Coast.

"A lot of times these raves will go for hours and hours on end," said Mowrey. "This drug is part stimulant, part hallucinogenic. So it increases the intense effect of the light shows and the music and then it also gives you that stimulant to keep you up and keep you going."

Here in Arizona, MDMA is sending more and more users to emergency rooms.

"I would say five or 10 years ago, those numbers would have been two or three or four per month," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio, co-medical director of Banner Poison Control and Drug Information Center.

Lovecchio said now the number is about 30 cases per month.

He told CBS5 News, the overdose symptoms are terrifying – especially in one recent case.

"Somebody took a drug, which was presumed to be molly, and he presented unconscious, comatose," Lovecchio said. "And his temperature rose to almost 110."

Lovecchio said high body temperatures can cause organ failure.

Molly can also dangerously elevate your heart rate and cause severe dehydration and seizures.

"Whoever came up with the idea that molly is a safe form of ecstasy is a genius in marketing, but is wrong from a medical standpoint," said Lovecchio.

Both Mowrey and Lovecchio believe the music industry is partly to blame for glamorizing molly, giving the false impression that it's not dangerous.

But Mowrey advises parents to use the songs your teens are listening to – to start a discussion about the dangers of the drug.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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