11 hospitalizations from 'bad batch' of party drug at Wesleyan

President urges campus, 'Take a stand to protect your fellow students'

Ten Wesleyan University students and two visitors were treated over the weekend for drug and alcohol overdoses, report police and school officials, who say they believe a "bad batch" of the synthetic drug "Molly" may be to blame for 11 of those.

The first 911 call was received at about 7 a.m. on Sunday and requests for emergency assistance continued throughout the day, says Middletown Police Lt. Heather Desmond. Two students were airlifted to Hartford Hospital while an additional two were taken by ambulance. These four were still receiving care as of Monday evening.

Several others were also treated at nearby Middlesex Hospital.

What is Molly?

Molly, also known as MDMA or a refined form of Ecstasy, increases body temperature and can cause heart, kidney, or liver failure. Commonly sold in capsules, users who believe they are taking Molly often actually ingest a range of other drugs—making the risks difficult to predict. Mark Neavyn, Hartford's chief of toxicology, says testing is underway to determine what the Wesleyan patients took.

"When we see these people in the emergency department and they claim to have taken Molly, we don't pay attention to that word anymore. It's so commonly not MDMA, we just start from square one and say it's some sort of drug abuse," says Neavyn.

Officials seek more information

On Monday, Wesleyan President Michael Roth published a letter to campus, asking anyone with information to come forward "before more people are hurt" and providing a telephone number to which students may make confidential reports.

"One mistake can change your life forever. If you have friends who are thinking about trying these kinds of drugs, remind them of the dangers," he wrote, continuing, "These drugs can be altered in ways that make them all the more toxic. Take a stand to protect your fellow students."

Middletown Police Chief William McKenna says his department is focusing on finding information about the batch of Molly used by the students on campus.

Some of the students who received medical attention went to a rave at the Eclectic Society house Saturday night, but "there is not necessarily a connection there," according to a university spokesperson.

Earlier in the school year, a school email alerted campus that students had been hospitalized two weekends in a row because of Molly (AP/WTOP, 2/23; Kovner, Hartford Courant, 2/23).

The takeaway: Police are investigating the sale of party drug Molly at Wesleyan University after 12 individuals were hospitalized for overdose and alcohol poisoning symptoms over the weekend. For information on how to improve cultures of substance abuse, read our research brief.

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