Dangers of the Popular Drug MDMA (Ecstasy or “Molly”)

There have been several news stories recently about young people who have died after taking a drug called MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or “Molly.”   Molly has become popular in entertainment (particularly pop music, concerts, raves, and music festivals).

We believe it is important that our Wake Forest families are educated about this substance.  Lavi Wilson, the campus Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator, shared this page about MDMA from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which outlines some of the characteristics of this drug, as well as the risks associated with its use.  There is also an article below that tells the story of a young woman who took Molly and died as a result.

We offer this information not to strike fear in the hearts of Wake Forest families, but so you have the opportunity to be knowledgeable about this drug and can have the opportunity to have meaningful conversations about it with your students.  Students or families who want to learn more about substance abuse prevention can visit the CHOICES (Cultivating Healthier Options in Challenging Everyday Situations ) website.


A grieving father’s words of warning for the young

Robert Goldsmith is preparing to celebrate the short life of his only daughter Shelly.

He wants to talk about her love of others, her family and the goals she set for herself.

But he must also cope with the tragic news that her death was a result of her taking that one chance, that misstep out of the ordinary.

Shelley Goldsmith’s collapse inside a Washington, D.C., nightspot was likely caused by her taking a popular drug used in rave clubs, her father said Friday, and he wants to warn parents and teenagers by using her life as an example.

“This was an upbeat, high-achieving, well-rounded, active young person who made a bad decision and died because of it,” Goldsmith said. “But I want people to know that this is not the legacy we want for Shelly. She was too giving of a person.”

In talking with friends who accompanied Shelley to Echostage, the largest dance venue in the D.C. area in the Ivy City suburb, they revealed to Goldsmith and to police that Shelly took one dose of the drug called Molly upon arriving at the club, he said.

Shelley Goldsmith, 19, who had just started her second year as a Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, had gone to the city to visit friends for the Labor Day weekend. She was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after collapsing at the club.

Molly is a form of the illegal substance known as ecstasy that Dr. Melinda Campopiano, of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said comes in a powder or crystallized form that has added to the interest in using it among the rave culture and in younger adults ages 18 to 30.

According to the Washington Post, authorities have launched an investigation into whether Shelley received a lethal dose that may have come from the same batch that was possibly distributed on the East Coast last weekend and claimed the lives of two others, including another 19-year-old female college student who died after taking the drug at the House of Blues in Boston, Mass.

When taken, Campopiano says the drug provides an overwhelming release of the same neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with addiction in general and with a person’s feeling of ecstasy with the release of epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.

The doctor also said that feelings of anxiety or depression can also become apparent while the drug takes its toll on the body and those symptoms can continue well after the high wears off.

“One dose will provide effects for three to six hours,” she said.

“People want to take this because of the feeling of emotional warmth, closeness and energy and euphoric high it brings. Some heighten it by chasing it with alcohol or marijuana. Even a moderate dose, a single dose, can be toxic to the nerve cells of the brain and cause permanent damage. It gives the person a sense of belonging in this mass of people dancing.

“People who take it a second time, the MDMA [chemical contained in Molly] can build up in the blood. MDMA, once in your body, interferes with your body’s ability to metabolize. There is no antidote for clearing this drug out of your body. Some people get hyperthermia with a high fever after taking it along with an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, organ failure and then death.”

Robert Goldsmith, president and CEO of People Inc. of Southwest Virginia, told the Associated Press earlier this week that his daughter had a “heart or pulmonary attack” prior to her death, although D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said in a police report that toxicology reports would determine the official cause of death.

“We thought about keeping this from the public and others, but we decided that telling her story could help warn others,” he said.

“I am positive that she probably didn’t feel like she was putting herself in jeopardy. She wouldn’t do that. She loved life. She made a bad decision and it cost her her life. The general thinking among college-age people right now is that [Molly] is safe because it makes you feel better. The word needs to get out that it can kill you.

“I don’t know if Shelley had done this one time or several times,” Goldsmith continued. “That’s not important now. The word needs to get out that this drug is not safe and the more that young people hear that, the better off they will be. I hope colleges and universities get involved and educate students about this drug. I don’t hold the University of Virginia responsible for this, but they do have a chance now to improve things. But I am not the only parent right now preparing for a funeral because of this drug. This needs to be stopped.”


To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.

If Your Student Has a Problem

One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them solve their own problems. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem.  The flyer also lists contact information for serious concerns where family intervention might be appropriate.

Orientation 2017 slide shows

Select slide shows from Orientation sessions are available online.