Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bigger than Molly

News of recent deaths linked to the use of “Molly” (a variant of ecstasy)  has generated increased attention to the use and dangers of so-called “club drugs,” frequently used by young adults in music/dance club settings.  The use of these substances has accelerated in prevalence in the past several years.  Deaths may result largely from dehydration and also, importantly, from adulteration with unknown and potentially lethal compounds. 

A 2012 study of university students found that 12.5% had at least tried club drugs at some point in their lives.  But about 20% had used opiate painkillers (such as Oxycontin), representing a much greater danger of serious, life-shattering addiction (and potential overdose).  Not surprisingly, about 25% had at some point taken stimulant pills (ADHD medicine, widely misused by college and graduate students) and 58% had used marijuana.  But another study found (again, to no one’s surprise) that 88% of college students had consumed alcohol in the previous year. 
Alcohol and prescription drugs (when prescribed) are legal, but they destroy many more lives than club drugs or even methamphetamines.  Alcohol, while used safely by most drinkers, has the potential to harm almost every bodily system, and kills people regularly via overdose, impulsive/dangerous and often violent behavior, intoxicated driving, etc.  So yes, we worry about “Molly” and her friends at the club, but some greater dangers lurk closer to home.