“I’m gonna fuck her!” he screamed as his three friends pinned him against the wall. He struggled under their grip with his fists clenched; his eyes hollow black pits of dilated pupil with no trace of thought behind them. If the boys restraining him would have released him, his plan was to rush back into the living room where the girl was, and he would force himself upon her. He didn’t seem to mind that she wanted nothing to do with him, that he was a monster in her eyes.

Drew had taken a few too many capsules of what he thought to be MDMA. Instead, he had consumed a hefty dose of bath salts — a drug designed to mimic the effects of an amphetamine. The pills had induced a psychosis and morphed his personality completely, creating an insatiable sex-fiend who would rather resort to violence than take no for an answer. Drew, an ordinarily timid and polite young man, suffered a fundamental change in his personality while under the influence of this drug.

The chances that the white powder you’re being sold is pure MDMA are slim to none. More likely, what’s inside your capsule is something far more dangerous. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized 143 substances between 2009 and 2013 that were believed to be molly and had them analyzed. Horrifyingly, only 13 percent of them actually contained some MDMA; and even then, they were cut with any number of unknown adulterants. 

Ecstasydata.org, a laboratory pill-testing program, allows people to mail their capsules to labs for testing, and then publishes the results. It says that of 54 samples believed to be ecstasy it tested this year, only about 25 percent contained only MDMA. Another 25 percent contained no MDMA whatsoever. So, what the hell kind of poison are you pumping into your undeserving body? That’s the game of Russian Roulette you play when you pop molly.

Bath salts can be composed of all kinds of shit, but the most common ingredient is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), also known as methylone. Methylone is a relatively new synthetic drug. The chemists who designed it began with a template of methamphetamine and rearranged molecules until they created a drug that was similar but “technically” not meth, and therefore “technically” not illegal. Once these new drugs are discovered on black markets and legislated against, police can begin to seize the drug and arrest the sellers, but that just starts the cycle over again — chemists just move a couple more molecules around until they cook up a new drug. And so on.

A very dangerous consequence of methylone and other drugs that mimic amphetamines is that they drastically reduce the user’s inhibitions, making re-dosing much more likely. Re-dosing is particularly hazardous when molly is cut with bath salts because there’s a high risk of overdose.  No surprise, it took a relatively small amount in Drew’s system to induce sweating, vomiting, bizarre behavior, hostility, and delusions. He became enraged when his friends physically restrained him from getting near the girls. He had to be confined to the front of the house while all the women huddled in fear in the back. The moment that Drew saw a girl, it would resurrect some overwhelming monster inside of him that demanded sexual stimulation. Reasoning with him proved impossible – behind his hauntingly wide eyes was no logic or trace of sanity. Our friend had left the building.

I grew horrified at what this substance might have been doing to his mind. I wondered, was it powerful enough to cause permanent brain damage? I felt helpless to revive him. I tried feeding him, giving him water, cooling him down with wet towels. But nothing would bring my friend back to me.

When my desperation overwhelmed me, I took him to the emergency room. He initially consented to going, but changed his mind once he was confined to the car. He slammed himself against the sides of the car and screamed in blood-curdling cries that he wouldn’t go. The doctors gave him two IV bags and a number of sedatives to bring him back down to earth. When we returned home, Drew finally drifted off to sleep.

Now a week later, Drew still doesn’t feel that he’s returned to normal. He feels incessantly nauseated, perpetually anxious, and fundamentally unhappy. He doesn’t remember most of what he did or what motivated him to do it. He wishes he never touched the drugs. He just wants to feel human again.

The great allure of drugs is the ability to alter our state of mind and temporarily exist in an entirely different reality. We want to leave our bodies or transform our way of seeing the world. It seems so novel and so appealing until you’ve been transformed into someone you’d never want to be. Because once the drugs are in your system, there’s no rewind button if you decide you don’t like where they’re taking you. And if you’re not testing what you’re swallowing, you’re likely ingesting a piñata of synthetic poisons. So be careful of molly when you’re not 100 percent sure it’s safe. There are always other, less rapey and aggressive, ways to transform.

[originally published September 28, 2017]