Colleges Debating Best Drug Counseling Approach For Molly

By McCarton Ackerman 12/19/13

An alarming increase in college-age users of the dangerous designer drug has been occurring at Washington State University.

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While colleges typically have drug counseling programs for students wanting to get clean, many are scratching their heads at how to handle treatment for Molly. The club drug, which is supposed to be the pure form of MDMA, can cause surges in dopamine and serotonin, which are related to feelings of euphoria. However, the Molly sold by dealers is often mixed in with cheaper drugs including meth.

Although exact numbers of college students who use Molly are not available, Washington State University reported an increasing number of students attending both their health clinic and nearby Pullman hospital after taking the club drug. A tainted batch of Molly which contained cocaine, LSD and meth also ravaged a Seattle music festival last July, resulting in one death and 100 hospitalizations. The drug has even made its way into high society due to its reputation as a “cleaner” version of ecstasy, with many New York city socialites reporting using the drug because it gives them an energy boost at events.

“You don’t know what you’re getting,” said Cassandra Nichols, director of Counseling and Testing Services at Washington State University (WSU). “(People think) that somehow because it’s in pill form, and it looks like a prescription pill, that it’s something that’s regulated, which it’s not. Or that somehow it being a more pure form of Ecstasy means something; it doesn’t.”

University experts are fully aware that scare tactics don’t work with college students, but they are trying to figure out the best method for educating people on potential consequences of Molly use. “We need to have some frank conversations, because some very negative harms can occur,” said Patricia Maarhuis, coordinator of WSU’s alcohol and drug counseling services. “We’re not using scare tactics. We’re using it more in terms of ‘Let’s look at the context’ and how many students would be vulnerable to the same situation.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.