HEALTH

Molly drug use increases despite warnings, East Coast deaths

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(WJLA) - On Aug. 31, University of Virginia sophomore Mary "Shelley" Goldsmith was enjoying a show at a Northeast Washington nightclub when she suddenly collapsed and died.

Goldsmith, just 19, had taken a club drug commonly called Molly, which is considered a purified form of Ecstasy.

She's not the only one to die after taking the drug, and now officials and authorities are warning people to stay away from a drug that's rising in popularity.

"It's a very big thing with high schoolers nowadays," high school student Robin Brumfeld, 15, says. He says he doesn't use Molly, but knows peers who rely on the drug.

At its root, Molly is MDMA, the chemical compound initially thought to be beneficial for certain psychological problems. It floods the brain with seratonin and dopamine, two chemicals that improve mood.

However, it can deplete sodium levels in the brain to dangerously low levels, and as it wears off, it can leave a person severely depressed.

"You can have a seizure and what they call cerebral edema," Dr. Chris Holstege, the director of student health at the University of Virginia, said. "The brain swells, then it herniates."

Law enforcement officials echo Brumfeld's statement, and those who work with troubled teens say that, all of a sudden, Molly is the new "it" drug with an increasingly younger crowd. Those who take it say that it makes you happy, causing users to "roll" for hours.

Meanwhile, drug treatment experts say that there are other risks from the use of Molly, including the aforementioned depression and impaired judgment.

"It increases people's desires to have sex, and then it becomes unprotected sex," drug prevention education counselor Meghan Davies says.

Goldsmith's father believes that his daughter suffered some sort of heart or pulmonary failure after taking Molly, leading to her death. An autopsy will determine her official cause of death.

The university she attended took quick action after her death to warn other Virginia students about the dangers of Molly. Two weeks after Goldsmith's death, the school released a series of videos cautioning students against taking it.

In the video, officials say that Molly typically is only comprised of about 25 percent MDMA, while the rest of the drug could be made up of life-threatening toxins.

However, some users believe that the negative response to both Goldsmith's death and the death of several others on the East Coast after using Molly has been sensational and misrepresents a drug they consider harmless. Many believe that the people who died used a "bad batch" of the party drug

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