If you think that your son or daughter isn’t the type of kid who would ever die from using drugs, then I suggest you take a look at the online obituary of 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo.
She was a junior at the University of New Hampshire and a member of the dance team there. She had been a member of her high school’s state championship cheerleading team and was the recipient of the Boston Dance Teacher’s Association’s Ballet Scholarship.
She was one of two who died over Labor Day weekend at the multi-day Electric Zoo Festival in New York of a suspected overdose of the drug known as Molly. Another 19-year-old college student died at the House of Blues in Boston a few days earlier and now police in Washington, D.C., say a University of Virginia sophomore died at a D.C. nightclub on Saturday after taking Molly.
While heroin and bath salts and diverted prescription drugs are what garner the most attention when it comes to discussions of young people and drugs, Molly, a purer form of the drug MDMA, or Ecstasy, is certainly on the radar screens of high school and college-age kids.
And why wouldn’t it be?
Commonly associated with music raves, Molly is considered to be a great high, producing feelings of euphoria and confidence and making great times even greater. Some would have you believe it’s relatively harmless when compared to other drugs.
Molly-related emergency department visits have more than doubled in the past six years, according to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network.
It’s a psychedelic drug and a stimulant and after-effects can include drug cravings and depression, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Peter Arno of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said this week that while heroin and cocaine continue to be among the state’s biggest drug problems, Molly is certainly present in Maine and its top consumers are young people.
“It has that nice name associated with it. It sounds harmless and it hasn’t gotten the bad, sort of scary reputation that some of the other drugs have so I think some teenagers are more willing to try it,” Arno warned.
But here’s a little dirty and local secret about Molly.
There have been two recent instances in the Bangor area in which samples of Molly have proven, when tested, to be cut with bath salts.
You’re familiar with that nasty drug, right?
And in truth Molly and bath salts are very similar, Arno noted.
Both are synthetic drugs made in sketchy labs, often overseas, by who knows who with ingredients from who knows where.
Both are Schedule 1 drugs, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act.
“The bottom line is drug dealing is a business and the people who run those businesses are looking to make money. If I’m a drug dealer and the publicity surrounding bath salts has limited the demand, then I’ll simply switch the name and start calling it Molly if that’s what people want. It’s not rocket science. And in reality they are not that different,” he said.
In other words, Molly might not be exactly what she appears to be.
The father of Mary “Shelley” Goldsmith, the 19-year-old who died Saturday at the D.C. nightclub, is the president of a nonprofit agency that helps people find jobs and housing.
He told a Washington Post reporter that if his daughter could die of an overdose, “anyone can.”
According to the Post, Robert Goldsmith said he had never known his honor-student daughter to do drugs. “This might have been the first time she did it,” he said. “It might not have been the first time. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never heard of this drug before. It seems to be the drug of choice.”
Shelley was a Jefferson Scholar at UVA. She was a former Girl Scout, active in her church, a member of her high school swim team, a tennis pro at a local club, a student leader at her high school and planned to pursue a career in law and public service.
Think your kid isn’t a kid who would ever die a drug-induced death?
Perhaps you should ask them if they are familiar with Molly.