FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Call for Action investigation that has been months in the making. WINK News is looking into a popular street drug already making its way around southwest Florida.
Parents, a warning for you. The new drug is hiding behind a popular girls name, fooling you into thinking your kids have a new friends. In reality, they're talking about getting high.
Since early March, WINK News spoke with narcotics officers, drug therapists and even a drug user all about a drug called Molly. Kids, even celebrities, are using this innocent sounding name to hide their dangerous habits. A user sat down, on the record, and spoke exclusively to WINK News to let parents know about the dangers of Molly.
"I use illegal drugs," said a drug user WINK News called "Rico."
Our user didn't want WINK News to tell you his name but he said he knows first hand what the drug Molly can do to those who take it.
"I've heard of younger kids now, even in high school and stuff, taking it while they're at school and being all doped up throughout their entire day. Your body aches and leaves you just wanting to get more just to feel normal." said "Rico."
Molly is a dangerous drug hiding behind a popular girls name.
"Kids may disguise it as, in a text message, hey have you met my friend Molly?" said "Rico."
A warning. She is not a friend but she is popular. Molly is a drug giving users a flying feeling and a hallucinating high.
"A lot of kids will just replace ecstasy with what they call Molly which is a powder form of MDMA," said "Rico."
Widely known as ecstasy or 'X', MDMA can induce intense feelings of excitement, euphoria and less anxiety. Molly is a form of MDMA that can be found in pill or powder form.
At $15 a pill, law enforcement says its easy to find in southwest Florida. The DEA considers the drug to be a schedule I controlled substance which means it has a high potential for abuse. It has no medical use in the United States.
"Cocaine. I think that is becoming more and more rare. People are replacing that with Molly because it has some of the same effects," said "Rico."
Some of those side effects could lead to seizures, even heart or kidney failure. Problem is, those taking the drugs aren't realizing the side effects and they're chasing that very first high.
"Because of the receptors that it damages, they'll never get that again and they keep taking more and more and more, attempting to get to that level and that's when they start to overdose on it," said Lt. Richard Snyder, Lee County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit.
Some effects of Molly include hyperthermia. It's where your body gets super hot. Your heart rate and blood pressure goes up and you can experience severe dehydration, having problems breathing or even worse.
"Should parents be scared? Should parents be concerned?," said Genevieve Judge, reporter.
"Absolutely. When you talk about the possible death of a child, yes you should be very scared," said Lt. Snyder.
Dr. Timothy Dougherty of Cape Coral Hospital said when someone comes into the E.R. with problems breathing, saying they've taken 'Molly' or some other type of ecstasy, doctors don't know what's in the drug because they're all made different.
"Death is clearly a possibility. Within all the emergency departments in Lee County, we're easily seeing at least one or two patients, one or two teenagers a week, coming in with drug related problems," said Dr. Dougherty.
In the music industry, song after song that talks about 'Molly' are catching on. Madonna asked a crowd of thousands of people in Miami if they've seen 'Molly' at a recent concert. It's considered a party drug.
"The Molly is a lot like the crack cocaine. They'll do it the first time and they'll chase that high again forever," said Lt. Snyder.
At Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Director Steven Hill has seen kids with all kinds of addiction problems.
"We've seen kids come in and we have to actually work with them on local detoxes and work with the hospitals," said Hill.
He wants to hammer home, no matter what, now is the time to have a conversation with your child or loved one.
"A lot of the drugs, especially that kids are using, they have no idea of the actual effects or what they're putting into their bodies. The worse thing a parent can do is pretend its not happening. The quicker you can intervene, the more success you're going to have," said Hill.
For 'Rico,' drugs are in southwest Florida and he wants others to be aware.
"Definitely and its just under the radar because no body knows how serious it is. Parents should know what to look for so that these kids don't get addicted at a young age," said "Rico."
'Molly' is sparking conversations. It's also a reminder to check your medicine cabinets. Another issue law enforcement is seeing in addition to 'Molly' is that kids are taking their parents prescription drugs and mixing those.
Links below can help start a conversation with kids or loved ones about drugs: