Date: September 19, 2013
To: Parents of All University Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Re: A Message from UVa's Executive Director of Student Health about the Drug "Molly"
At the end of August, a few days after the start of classes, the University community was saddened to learn of the death of Shelley Goldsmith, a Jefferson Scholar and a well-known, highly engaged student in her second year at UVa. The circumstances of Shelley’s death have not been confirmed, but her parents believe she died as a result of taking “Molly,” or Ecstasy (also known as MDMA), while attending an Electronic Dance Music concert in Washington, D.C.
Deaths of other young people around the country have been attributed to Molly in recent weeks. We think it is important for students and parents to know the facts about this drug. Toward this goal, Dr. Chris Holstege, Executive Director of Student Health and a noted toxicology expert with the UVa Health System, has created a video, which you can watch by clicking here or by going to http://youtu.be/gv14jOtWMuA. A similar version of the video is being sent to students with an accompanying message.
Surveys of UVa students conducted over the past 20 years show the use of Ecstasy/Molly is not widespread at UVa, but we know that most young people are aware of its availability and popularity. As stressed by Dr. Holstege, one primary risk of taking Molly, or any illicit drug for that matter, is that it is impossible to know the contents. These chemicals can have unpredictable effects, varying by dose, purity, environment in which the drug is taken, and biological factors, including dehydration, illness, and the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Research shows that drugs sold as Ecstasy/Molly vary significantly in actual content, with an average of only 25 percent of drugs tested containing pure MDMA. Numerous studies continue to reaffirm that products claiming to be pure Ecstasy/Molly often are not. (See chart.)
We hope the video will initiate honest conversations on Grounds, similar to ones that already take place about the use of alcohol. While Shelley’s life and achievements should always be more important than the circumstances of her death, her parents – Robert and Deirdre Goldsmith – openly support more dialogue and education around these drugs. We deeply appreciate their willingness to bring attention to this issue during their time of immense grief.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer