Monday, September 9, 2013

The "Molly" drug. Understanding the path of responsibility.

Recently, local New England universities UNH and Plymouth State tragically lost 2 of their own students and authorities are pointing to the drug “Molly” as the main culprit. So who or what is “Molly” you may be wondering.

Known as a popular dance club drug, Molly, also known as MDMA, has been referred to as a powerful form of ecstasy. It comes in a powder or crystalline form and is known to cause instantaneous euphoria followed by deep depression several days later. Side effects can include increased heart rate and respiration, uncontrollable seizures, cardiac arrest, and coma. What’s more troubling is because it is considered to be an uncontrolled substance, there is inconsistency in what it may contain- which means those ingesting it may never really know what is going into their system.

There is nothing that a school can do or say to a parent that will ease the pain and suffering surrounding the loss of a child. So how then does a college rebound from something like this moving forward? How we do we learn from situations like these? What are the obligations of the school community to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future? These are questions I’m sure both UNH and Plymouth State along with many others are asking themselves in the wake of this terrible tragedy.

I’ll never forget 2 tragedies that occurred during my undergraduate years- one a suicide and the other from a car crash. I did not know the latter victim which did not diminish the pain I felt for his family, but sadly I did know the former and had even met with him several days prior to the suicide to discuss some budget-related issues my club on campus was wrestling with.

Did I notice any signs when I sat with him that day? None that really jump out to me, but then again as a meek and mild college freshman, I was too naive to really know what “signs” to be aware of. If either of these individuals had been close friends of mine, I probably would have blamed myself for NOT recognizing some type of sign that there were serious issues lurking beneath.

A college campus and those who populate it, need to be in synch with one another. Certainly students (and people in general for that matter) who put drugs into their bodies are taking a major risk in how their own systems will respond to a foreign substance and need to be told that it can be akin to playing Russian roulette where the outcome is pretty uncertain.

Colleges who keep aware and up to date on the potential drugs that could infiltrate their campuses will be one step ahead of the game. With that knowledge, comes the responsibility to share this information in a variety of ways with the greater student body community, such as community-wide workshops and forums. Students, also need to become involved and take steps to better educate themselves and each other on the harmful and damaging properties that various drugs contain. If you knew that a drug had the likely capability of causing long term confusion, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation would you think differently about experimenting with it?

No one can ever watch everyone nor prevent students from going to music festivals and concerts, but I would argue it is up to students to look out for each other be it at these events or simply hanging out in the dorm room. If you even slightly suspect that someone may be going down the “wrong” path, you owe it to yourself (and that person) to take action.

If you can talk to the student about your concerns and explain to them what you have learned about the potential side effects of a drug you suspect or fear they may be using, this is a good 1st step. If you meet with resistance, a second step might be to contact someone within your school community, such as an RA (Resident Assistant), school counselor or an advisor about your concerns.

Just like bullying, even if you are not doing it yourself, you can still be held accountable if you don't stand up for the person being bullied or at the very least report it. Students are continuously confronted with choices in college of which “path” to take. In the realm of looking out for our fellow students, the “path” of responsibility is in your hands. We hope you choose wisely.

For more information on Molly, go to:


About the Author:

Jay Robie is Director of Student Services at College Planning Strategies and also oversees all business development, partnerships & client relations for the SmartTrack™ Toolkit online products. He has worked in the college admissions consulting space since 2004 and has worked in admissions at the secondary, collegiate and graduate levels. He received his BA degree from St. Lawrence University and MBA from Boston College