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Recently, in Wellington, FL, a deadly chemical nicknamed, “Dr Death,” by health professionals is being detected in ecstasy pills. Dr Death, which is the chemical para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA) reacts with serotonin in the brain and acts much like an antidepressant, but with hallucinogenic attributes.

Interestingly enough, PMA is often being synthesized by accident by black market chemists attempting to manufacture MDMA. Down the line, ignorant dealers distribute the drug as ecstasy, unknowingly.

The onset of the effects of MDMA is much more rapid than PMA, which can take up to two hours to produce its effects. The typical solution for users assuming they are taking weak drugs is naturally to take more. Two hours later they’ve overdosed. Since May of this year, PMA has been linked to six deaths in the state of Florida.

Dr Death can cause a fatal overdose in a number of different ways. Cases have been documented of a user’s body temperature being raised 108 degrees. Other symptoms can include an elevated heart rate, hypertension, convulsions and even cerebral hemorrhaging.

The ecstasy pills in Wellington likely to contain PMA are labelled as “Green Apples.” They’re green pills with an imprint shaped like an apple in the center.

Ecstasy pills being adulterated with other substances is nothing new. Anything from PCP to special K, to anabolic steroids could be present in an E pill, making taking them a lot like Russian roulette.

An organization called Dance Safe provides reagent testing kits, with which a chemical solution is dripped onto the pills and a color change can indicate what is contained in the pills. Although a reagent test is not a hundred percent conclusive, ‘they can identify a variety of substances, including PMA. Dance Safe reagent test kits are available on their website www.dancesafe.org

MDMA, formerly known on the street as ecstasy has been re-dubbed, “molly,” short for, “molecule,” and it’s become the recreational drug of choice among millennials. Popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s underground rave music scene, MDMA as ecstasy was typically adulterated with amphetamines or other similar chemicals. In today’s party scene molly is usually accepted as being pure MDMA and therefore safer, but researchers assert that this is far from the truth. As with the purchase of any illegal drug, there’s just no way to know what a substance actually is unless you have a chemistry lab with you. New synthetic chemicals are showing up on the streets all the time, substances of which very little is known about how potent or dangerous they are. Often a capsule supposedly containing, “molly,” what a user may assume is pure MDMA will contain very little of the substance MDMA at all. It is more likely to be a concoction of any number of a variety of research chemicals which have recently been labeled as bath salts.

In any case, MDMA has gained a resurgence in popularity due to a reemergence of electronic music. Formerly known as electronica in the club scene that popularized ecstasy, this genre of beat driven dance music has been repackaged like MDMA has, and is known today as EDM, Electronic Dance Music. The EDM style, more palatable to mainstream listeners, has found its way into pop music, making the culture that comes along with it more readily available to mass audiences. These factors have set a stage for a drug craze reminiscent of the hay day of the hippie and LSD.

Although rare, MDMA does carry the risk of overdose. The drug can cause constriction of blood vessels in the brain and heart that can lead to a potential stroke or heart attack. The substances stimulant effect can raise heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a user’s body temperature to a dangerous level approaching overheating which can potentially result in fatal brain damage. Dehydration is also common from overexertion of the body.

MDMA, molly, or ecstasy, whatever you want to call it, just like any other psychoactive drug has the high potential for abuse. Old school ravers are most likely looking at the overuse of molly today as a presumptuous naive mistake among inexperienced youths who will put whatever is handed to them into their body. Electronica, popular among marginal, off the beaten path types, dancing all night in a warehouse somewhere has given way to EDM, which can be popular among fifteen year old cheerleaders and football players. EDM carries the burden of dangerously misinformed drug experimentation. If EDM is your thing, please, be safe.