Check out these apps!

Here are a few cool apps I just discovered!!

Introducing… LiveSafe!

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Developer: LiveSafe, Inc.
Price: Free!
Available on: iPhone
Ratings: on average 4 stars!

This app is really fascinating because it allows communication with college community safety officials using text, audio, and picture to contact them. It also allows you to “walk with a friend” using the SafeWak feature. So if you are walking home at night or after a concert, you can be in contact with a friend to ensure that you have someone that knows where you are at all times.

It also allows you to request a SafeRide if your community offers it and it shares location during an emergency. However, keep in mind that this is just a safety feature, it is not what you should rely on in an emergency situation.

The only downfall of this app is it is only created for certain college communities. Not all college campuses are set up with the app, but it’s something to look into. If you’re interested in this, make sure to contact the app owners to see what you can do to set your college up with this!

Try HealthTap!

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Developer: HealthTap
Price: Free!
Available on: iPhone
Ratings: on average 4.5 stars!!

This is really awesome! HealthTap allows you to be in contact with doctors by chat, video, audio 24/7. The doctors can recommend care for you and I think this is awesome that they volunteer their time to help others in the fastest way possible. It definitely does not replace going to see a doctor face-to-face, however, it is very efficient if you need help in a situation. For example if you are at a rave and you see that your friend or someone around you is not showing good signs of health, you can open the app and ask a doctor for some advice!

Check out Heart Rate!

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Developer: Azumio Inc.
Price: Free!
Available on: iPhone
Ratings: on average 4.5 stars!!

This is such a cool app. It simply measures heart rate. All you do is place your finger to the camera on the back of your phone and within 30 seconds or so, it is able to detect heart rate! This could very important in telling yourself to slow down and take a break whether you are exercising or dancing the night away.

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Why Make a Difference with Molly Awareness?

Making a Difference with Molly Awareness from Laura Yassa on Vimeo

The most important thing I am trying to accomplish with this campaign is awareness. It is evident that Molly could cause adverse health effects, long term and short term, yet people choose to do it anyways. All we can do as a society is spread awareness. We can not force people to change their mind, although we hope they do.

Check out my blog post about some awesome apps I found that could create a safe environment whether you choose to go to a concert, rave, or if you’re simply just curious!

Debunking Myths about Molly

I’ve mentioned in my previous post about sources about how important it is to have credible sources when reading and learning about health facts. Here is my version of myths and truths about Molly with the most credible sources I could find out there. It will answer questions regarding: Is Molly is a “safe” drug? Can it help with post traumatic stress disorder? Do the effects last longer than a few hours? Can taking Molly actually be fatal? Is drinking a ton of water the safest thing you can do? Can it cause you to be depressed? What are the other effects? And finally, how can all this (education, facts, etc.) be so important? Keep reading to find out!!

Myth 1: Molly is a “safe” drug.

False: Molly has gained a deceptive reputation for being a “safe” drug, but this is an unfortunate myth. Often, these emergency room visits are the result of other drugs that are used to make Molly. Because this drug is purchased illegally and therefore is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, no one knows what they could be purchasing when getting it from a drug dealer. For example, it may be mixed with extra substances such as cocaine that the buyer wouldn’t know about. Yet, Molly could contain something else potentially more toxic than MDMA alone. Dr. Ronald Cowan, a psychiatry professor at Vanderbilt University who studies MDMA, said even the purest MDMA isn’t safe. Although it’s considered rare, death from pure MDMA can happen several ways. It can cause blood vessels in the heart and brain to constrict and result in a stroke or heart attack. The stimulant, which raises the user’s blood pressure and heart rate, can also cause the body to get severely overheated, causing permanent or fatal brain damage.

Myth 2: MDMA has been initially popularized by psychotherapists and other mental health practitioners.

Truth: Research has shown that this party drug can help with people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing alongside a list of prohibited substances like heroin and LSD. However, in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes. Soldiers who return from being abroad have no interest in traditional therapy and are the target for this new research. Studies of people taking MDMA suggest that the drug induces the release of a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is thought to increase sensations of trust and affection. The drug also seems to calm the activity in a brain region called the amygdala, which is affected during fearful, threatening situations often referred to the fight-or-flight response.  Thus, this drug could potentially help soldiers return to their normal selves post-war. Although there is a possible benefit—under the supervision of a credible research facility, of course—it’s often outweighed by the negative potential outcomes.

Myth 3: The effects of MDMA only last 3-8 hours.

False: While the high from MDMA may only last three to six hours, the negative health and emotional effects can last a few days to a couple of weeks. There is in fact a “day after” effect where users may need to plan 2 days for the experience: one for the peak experience and a day to recover. The neurotransmitter, serotonin, is responsible for maintaining mood balance and sleep. When people take Molly, there is extra serotonin that is released that causes those “mood-lifting” effects and some even begin to be very touchy. Serotonin also allows for the release of different hormones from the pituitary glands such as oxytocin, which is gives you the “feel good” sensation. This maybe why some users feel the need to be touchy with others.

Negative effects may not occur during the time of being “high”, HOWEVER, there are after-affects that allow for anxiousness, dizziness, confusion, etc. What happens physiologically is that the brain does not have enough serotonin after that initial release caused by Molly. So this can last for even days or weeks afterwards. People can even go as far as to experience depression or sleeping problems.

Myth 4: Molly can result in death.

Truth: The definition of overdose is: an amount of a drug or medicine that is too much and usually dangerous. MDMA death is rarely the result of overdose and calling them overdoses is very misleading. Calling them overdoses leads people to believing that there is an amount of Molly that they can take and they will be good to go, but this is just NOT true; so, STOP CALLING THEM OVERDOSES. A multiple of factors can lead to death from Molly. One, is what we mentioned in Myth 1: it can be mixed with a variety of substances and you simply wouldn’t know. Again, when someone sells this to you, it’s not regulated by the FDA, nor is it actually made by real chemists. Second of all various health conditions can be a result of ingesting this: heatstrokes, dehydration (or drinking TOO MUCH WATER), etc.

Myth 5: Drinking lots of water can make taking Molly safer.

False: Many people who use ecstasy have been told that they need to make sure to drink lots and lots of water so that they don’t become dehydrated. However, the result is hyponatremia which means “low salt” and is the word for water intoxication. Sweating a lot from dancing for hours causes the body to lose salt but so does drinking too much water. Drinking an excessive amount of water dilutes the amount of salt in the body to a dangerous amount. If you’re drinking too much water, in any situation, eating some snacks (to elevate salt levels) or drinking Gatorade will keep your salt and electrolyte levels balanced and could help prevent hyponatremia.

Myth 6: Chronic use of Molly can cause depression.

Truth: Because dopamine and, more importantly, serotonin levels are low, it can lead to side effects of depression. In general, positive events causes the response of serotonin release and the increase in receptor binding. So, when you are happy, you are experiencing more serotonin receptors being activated. Ecstasy has the same neurological response. Serotonin receptor binding is the primary cause of MDMA’s desirable, yet negative effects. When under the influence of Molly, an overloading sense of exaggerated euphoria and happiness prevails. Ecstasy will then flood the brain with serotonin neurotransmitters to release large amounts of serotonin to accommodate the effect. However, this means that fewer receptors are going to be able activate in a normal brain state, so mood in everyday life will decrease and may cause depression. As a result, some people are then tempted to take more ecstasy because the contrast between how they were feeling earlier that day and how they feel on Molly are so extreme. Taking Molly on a regular basis causes the release and depletion of serotonin before it has a chance to fully replenish itself.  Brain cells are affected by serotonin which have a role in sleep, memory, learning, social behavior, and, more importantly, mood.

Myth 7: Other than water toxicity, there are no other adverse effects.

False: Moreover, toxic doses of ecstasy has been known to cause kidney failure. Dehydration is a short term effect that people experience, but when Molly is used chronically it can eventually lead to kidney failure which is fatal in the long run. As mentioned in Myth 5, dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Ecstasy releases loads of an anti-diuretic hormone, telling the body to suck up as much water as possible and keep it in the system. When paired with activity like dancing, the urge to drink a lot of water becomes apparent and you drown the body with water.

In addition, ecstasy is a stimulant that will cause blood pressure and heart rate to noticeably rise by producing indirect sympathetic nervous system activation by releasing norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Activation of the sympathetic system can lead to varying degrees of tachycardia, vasoconstriction, unpredictable blood pressure effects, and arrhythmias, depending on the dose taken, the purity of the drug, and the presence or absence of coexisting cardiovascular disease. In all, ecstasy causes an unnecessary strain on the heart that may not be recoverable.

Myth 8: The most valuable thing is to educate people.

Truth: @DanceSafe has shared an interesting article by the Boston Globe’s twitter account which discusses an interesting point: there are “efforts to ban drugs and events” but it is seen as “unrealistic in terms of solving the [so called] over dose problem.” The article says that the main reason is that some believe that by banning events from happening that it’s going to end this drugs usage. It may minimize it BUT it may also “move into an underground setting or someone’s house.” This is true. Sometimes by telling someone that they can’t do something, makes them want to do it even more. I believe that the most important thing that we can do, as promoters of healthy living, is simply provide the truth and facts. Whether people will read them, take them into consideration, or even change their lifestyle is completely up to that individual. You can’t force anyone to believe anything or change their mind, the only thing is to educate and hope people will make the obvious healthy choices.

Now that we have gone over eight of the most important myths and truths, it’s up to you to use this information however you want! I can not stress how important it is for Molly users to make a lifestyle change away from using this drug. College is supposed to be a time for fun but also to create a YOU that you could see yourself being in 4, 5, 10, even 40 years!

@iamecstasyaware

Molly has grown in popularity due to the fact that it is marketed as “pure” MDMA, thus people might believe it is safe. In fact, sometimes if people don’t feel the effect of the drug they decide to take another pill. This could be incredibly dangerous and detrimental to your body. People, particularly college students and ravers need to be aware of this and consider the fact that they can overdose and it can be fatal in some cases. While overdose is not too common with using molly, the side effects are what creates a danger for users. College students know that this is a dangerous habit and know that they shouldn’t be taking such risks. The whole goal of Making a Difference with Molly Awareness (MDMA) is to make information available so that people choose to live a healthier lifestyle. So, I have found that Twitter feeds are so easy to share this information, which is why I have created mine; to reach students and others in the easiest way possible: @iamecstasyaware.

College Students and Molly: A Review of Sources

As a college student, I understand what fun is. Fun can be going out with friends and having a good time. Fun can be going to concerts and dancing until you can’t feel your legs anymore. Where the line should draw, however, is when fun turns into something dangerous. I understand in college people want to experience things that they won’t be able to do later on. I will honestly say that it freaks me out when my friends talk about the next rave that they’re going to and how many pills they’re going to buy. I think that it is so crucial that people are educated if they’re going to make the decision to take Molly.

An effective awareness campaign, starts with credible sources especially if the target audience is college students (18-22) because honestly, most people will believe the first thing they read and not spend time researching. Using sources that the younger population can relate to is even a better way of relaying the message. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and other interactive websites would most effectively aid this campaign in promoting awareness of the effects of Molly.

Dance Safe

In my experience, being told not to do something, would make me want to do it even more. So, I believe it’s important to not tell people what to do, but rather make information available as to why they shouldn’t and on their own they can make their own decision.

Dance Safe is public health organization promoting health and safety within the nightlife and rave community. Their main goal is to avoid misuse of substances and allow young adults to make healthy, informed lifestyle choices.

As a science major, what stood out to me about this website is Dance Safe’s “This is Your Brain on Ecstasy” article. It presents a slideshow that explains the effects of Molly on the brain and the neurochemistry of it. Written in an “easy to understand language” allows for not only scientific people but also the general public to comprehend.

NIDA for Teens

NIDA for Teens is affiliated with the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Although the website is “for teens”, after reviewing the site, it is most definitely acceptable for the college population as well; it offers an array of educational blogs and stories, videos, and facts about different types of drugs and more specifically Molly. The ultimate goal of these blogs is to inform the population, whether it be teens or young adults who are in college, what Molly can do to you whether it is short term effects or in the long run. They also refer to other credible sources that show graphs and visuals, such as NIDA’s Monitoring the Future graph regarding Ecstasy use:

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Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world with over 1.23 billion users. It includes a range of people: from young teenagers to the older population. Facebook has the power to unite people who share the same interest in things through the millions of pages available. There is almost a page for any topic or issue you can imagine. Dance Safe has a page with about 28,000 likes; meaning 28,000 people follow this page and get daily updates, articles, and even links to other organizations on their NewsFeeds.

Since Facebook was created for college students in Harvard back in 2004, it is most likely that more than half of my audience has a Facebook account. By “sharing” pages such as this one, exploring what this page has to say is just a click away.

The Most Popular Girl in School: Molly

One of the increasingly popular drugs on college campuses is Ecstasy, also known as Molly or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). It is referred to as a club drug because it is used by teenagers and young adults at bars, nightclubs, and parties. After taking this drug, in doses of 2-3 pills, supposedly people enter a state of euphoria and that “feel good” about themselves; these are major reasons why it is so desirable among the younger population. With modern pop music, the use of Ecstasy is being popularized by artists like Kanye West and Miley Cyrus. These are many reasons why Molly has gained a deceptive reputation for being a “safe” drug, but this is an unfortunate myth. So, like any other street-made drug, there are reasons why it is illegal and detrimental to one’s health.

Despite evidence and advocacy against its usage, millions of Americans continue to use the drug. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 16 million people have used ecstasy at some point in their life, and during 2012, 869,000 people used ecstasy for the first time, substantially higher than the number of LSD and hallucinogen users combined. The average age for first-time users is 20.3-years-old, smack dab in the middle of the college years, another reason why students shouldn’t be spending $20-30 per pill for every concert. It is shocking that people think taking drugs are necessary to feel good about themselves, to enjoy music and to have fun. What many don’t realize is all the psychological and physiological complications that can occur from taking Molly which could later lead to emergency room visits and perhaps a fatality.

Realistically, college students know that this is a dangerous habit and know that they shouldn’t be taking such risks. But yet, they still do it. The main goal is to raise awareness of the possible outcomes from taking this drug and hopefully turn people away from it and choose to live a healthier lifestyle.