A new study led by New York University School of Medicine Assistant Professor Dr. Joseph J. Palamar yields some troubling results for partiers. Researchers analyzed hair samples from 48 young adults at nightclubs and festivals who reported past use of “molly,” which is supposedly pure MDMA. They found that many of these people were taking more than they had bargained for—namely, “bath salts,” the synthetic cathinones that made media waves a few years back.
According to the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “Half (50.0%) of the hair samples contained MDMA, 47.9% contained butylone, and 10.4% contained methylone.” Butylone and methylone are New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) with similar properties to MDMA, but with less-understood risk profiles.
While many folks who claimed to have taken MDMA were high on something else, those who claimed never to have used “bath salts” were testing positive for those drugs at pretty high rates.
“Of those who reported no lifetime use of ‘bath salts’, stimulant NPS, or unknown pills or powders, about four out of ten (41.2%) tested positive for butylone, methylone, alpha-PVP, 5/6-APB, or 4-FA,” the researchers conclude.
The researchers also note that regular attendance at clubs and festivals was the strongest predictor for a positive MDMA, butylone, or methylone test, but with an interesting caveat: “Racial minorities were more likely to test positive for butylone or test positive for NPS after reporting no lifetime use.”
This is not the first time scientists have found major discrepancies between self-reported drug-use and chemical analysis. As The Influence previously reported, toxicologist Dr. Barry Logan used saliva samples from attendees at Miami’s Ultra Festival to do similar research, and produced similar results. He found that while only 17% of people who said they took molly had actually taken MDMA, ethylone (35%), methylone (25%) and Alpha-PVP (13%) were common among self-reported molly users.
Misconceptions about “molly” are common, but you can learn more the drug and risks associated with it here.