Wesleyan Says 12 People Hospitalized for Ecstasy Overdose

Wesleyan University said 12 people were hospitalized after an apparent mass overdose of the ecstasy club drug known as Molly.

Ten students and two visitors were transported or went to area hospitals on Sunday with overdose symptoms, Wesleyan President Michael Roth said in a statement. As of late Monday, one person remained at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Connecticut, where the school is based. Three were at Hartford Hospital. Two of the Hartford patients, who were airlifted, were in critical condition.

“One mistake can change your life forever,” Roth said in a message to students. “Please, please stay away from illegal substances the use of which can put you in extreme danger.”

Molly, a pure form of ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug that produces euphoria, emotional warmth and sensory distortion, making it popular in nightclubs. Its effects are similar to amphetamine, or speed, and the hallucinogen mescaline. In high doses, Molly, or MDMA, interferes with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, causing overheating that can lead to liver, kidney and heart failure, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The name Molly, an abbreviation of the word “molecular,” describes its crystalline form.

Bad Batch

While the pills are sold as pure MDMA, or ecstasy, they’re frequently laced with other drugs such as PCP, cocaine, caffeine or bath salts. An adulterated version has killed at least four people in the U.K. in recent months, where the drug is more commonly known as Mandy, according to British newspaper the Independent.

Middletown police are seeking information about the “bad batch” of Molly used at Wesleyan on Saturday night to better assist medical providers, Chief William McKenna said. The department is working with the state’s attorney’s office to investigate the origin of the drugs and any criminal involvement in the case.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘good batch’ when you’re dealing with these synthetic drugs,” said Anthony Pettigrew, a spokesman for the New England division of the Drug Enforcement Agency. “You’re using something you have no idea what it is. It’s like Russian roulette.”

Seizures of methylone, used to make what is often sold as Molly, have been increasing, he said.

A bad batch of Molly was responsible for a wave of overdoses that swept the U.S. East Coast in the summer of 2013, causing deaths in nightclubs in Boston and Washington and at a music festival on New York’s Randall’s Island. New England colleges at the time, including Boston University, warned students about its use.

Wesleyan sent out a campuswide letter in September warning about the drug’s dangers after students were hospitalized for Molly overdoses on two consecutive weekends.

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