The designer drug that landed 11 Wesleyan University students in the hospital last month has been gaining popularity among young people.
It's a form of MDMA called "Molly," and many people think it’s safe, but as we discovered through our investigation, taking a Molly pill can be like playing Russian Roulette.
“It's just like coke was in the 80s, or weed was in the 90s,” said Det. Michael Suplicki of the Willimantic Police Department. “It's just like the cool thing to do now.”
It’s the drug with a friendly name and a deceiving reputation. According to police and recent studies, Molly is a growing favorite among some college students and people 18-25 years old, who tout it as safe, but it can be deadly.
Some college students we talked to say the growing trend derives from celebrities who make it seem like the "in" thing to do. In fact, some of the biggest names in music talk about the drug in their songs.
Suplicki said the drug is mainly used at parties or raves, where the atmosphere is intense. Molly adds to that intensity.
“They feel like free spirits and they can go just go out and do whatever they want to do,” he explained.
We asked some Eastern Connecticut State University students if they knew people who used Molly, and how they felt while using.
"You get a rush. Everything you touch feels amazing. All your worries go away," they answered.
However, Dr. Craig Allen of the Rushford Center said Molly has a serious downside.
"Anxiety and panic attacks, it can cause elevated blood pressure, arrhythmias, you can become dehydrated," said Allen. "You can have breakdown of thee muscles and cause kidney damage, and some people have seizures. People have been known to die from taking this stuff."
Amont the fatalities are two people who died after overdosing on Molly at an Electric Zoo concert in Randall's Island, New York, in 2013.
Just last month, nearly a dozen Wesleyan students were hospitalized after taking Molly. Five other students were arrested in connection with the case.
Police warn that Molly dealers aren’t your typical thugs hanging on street corners. They are often educated or in college themselves and can appear as friendly as the drug.
"A college kid that will supply a whole college, like Eastern that we have here in the city, or at UConn," Suplicki described.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters headed to a Hartford neighborhood and asked strangers how to buy Molly. Within minutes, two different people approached and said they could sell us as much as we wanted, it was just a matter of how much money we were willing to spend.
The drug is easy to find and is passed around at parties and colleges. But what's really in the pill? What are people putting in their bodies? Experts say no one really knows.
"It's usually anything but Molly, because it's often cut with all kinds of different substances," said Allen. "It can be cut with heroin; it can be cut with cocaine."
"They are finding upwards of 200 other synthetic drugs that could be going in there," added Naugatuck Police Lt. Bryan Cammarata.
Even if you obtain "pure" Molly, you could still be getting one of three things: MDMA, Mephedrone, or Methylone.
People often think they are buying MDMA or ecstasy, the Molly that gives you the euphoric, happy feeling, but instead, they end up with Mephedrone, or Methylone, forms that police say leave you feeling aggressive and agitated.
"A lot of people, sometimes, they take it too far and they become violent," said Suplicki.
Willimantic police said they encountered a young man who was high on Molly in 2013, and because of his violent behavior, they had to stun him with a Taser 10-15 times.
"Some people may get away with using the drug, but there is a large amount of people who may have serious negative consequences of using the drug," explained Dr. Srinivas Muvvala.
There are other consequences of using Molly some don't think about.
"You might be open to things that includes different types of drugs, but that also includes having sex with multiple partners or people you don't know very well, so the risk of sexual assault or sexually transmitted disease is very high with this drug," said Allen.
But college students we spoke with say none of this seems to matter to some users who are just looking for fun.
The synthetic drugs used to make Molly are legal in China and are usually shipped to the U.S. by mail, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. which has been trying to break up Molly drug rings here in the states.
Connecticut was one of 20 states involved in a large bust in 2013.