Correction: This story has been modified from its original version. —
The bass drops. It feels like his heart is pounding out of his chest. The crowd goes wild at the music festival in Northern Virginia. And he is rolling on Molly.
Molly, MDMA, ecstasy — this type of drug goes by many names, but the danger is all the same. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, side effects of taking MDMA include muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision, increased heart rate and blood pressure, depression, anxiety, feeling faint and dizziness.
The Collegiate Times talked to one student about what it’s like to experience the drug which has recently become a staple in pop culture. The Collegiate Times has decided not to name the student because of the illegal nature of his actions and the possible legal ramifications.
He tries to describe his experience to others, but it’s not as easy as he thinks.
“You feel like — it’s hard to describe — it’s like nothing else,” the sophomore, a biological systems engineering major said.
He doesn’t have to describe it — the drug’s chemical makeup speaks for itself.
MDMA is commonly referred to as the “love drug,” and is known for producing feelings of euphoria, increased connectivity with surroundings and a decrease in anxiety. The drug is composed of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, which alters the user’s sensory receptors and increases the speed of biological functions.
Unlike in previous decades, Molly currently has its own fan club of sorts among celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Rick Ross, Kanye West and Gucci Mane, who publicly voice their support of the drug.
In one of her latest hits, “We Can’t Stop,” Cyrus sings about “dancing with Molly,” and has spoken in favor of Molly and marijuana in the past. “Those are happy drugs — social drugs. They make you want to be with friends,” she said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
But “happy drugs” can have serious risks.
When the body’s various systems are reacting at such high speeds, hyperthermia becomes one of the biggest risks and has proven to be the cause of several deaths related to the drug. Dr. Noelle Bissell, medical director at Schiffert Health Center, says that as the effects of the drug begin to wear off, users experience a sharp drop in regulatory hormones which prevents them from keeping stable body temperatures.
“What happens is people are uninhibited, and they’re in a good mood and dancing and dancing, and their ability to regulate body temperature has been altered by the drug,” Bissell said.
She said the effects of Molly are wide-ranging and serious. “It’s not just the side effects of the drug, but the risk associated with the behavior from the drug.”
Though long-term research hasn’t been conducted on humans for ethical reasons, Bissell said initial studies in animals show evidence of damage to brain functions over time that can result in memory loss and loss in cognitive ability.
The dangers of Molly hit close to home when Shelly Goldsmith, a 19-year-old student and Jefferson Scholar from the University of Virginia, died in early September at a D.C. nightspot after taking Molly when she entered the venue. Shortly after ingesting the drug, Goldsmith had a heart attack, according to her father Robert Goldsmith.
“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…This needs to be stopped,” Goldsmith told The Associated Press in an interview following his daughter’s death.
The Collegiate Times attempted to contact the Virginia Tech Health Education regarding their educational programs, but the department denied the request.
According to research from national research group Monitoring the Future, which studies the behaviors, attitudes and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults, 12.3 percent of people polled, between the ages of 19 and 30 had used MDMA, with the median age hitting between 19 and 22.