Eleven students at Welseyan University were hospitalized after overdosing on MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy. Two are in critical condition and needed to be flown to Hartford Hospital.

The Middletown, Connecticut school sent two emails to students alerting them to the overdoses yesterday. According to the Wesleyan Argus:

“A Wesleyan sophomore was transported to Middlesex Hospital early this morning and is in critical condition as a result of an apparent overdose,” the first email reads. “Two other students were transported in less serious condition but with similar symptoms.”

Cross Street Fire Station Battalion Chief David Anderson confirmed that the students were taken from the Butterfield Dorms, the Foss Hill dorms, and 200 High Street. Whaley later told The Argus that the number of hospitalized students had increased to 11, with a few students checking into the hospital on their own.

Police are investigating whether the overdoses are linked to a bad batch of the drug. The Hartford Courant reports that Middletown "police, the Middlesex prosecutor's office, the state forensics laboratory, and personnel at Middlesex and Hartford hospitals are working together on the overdose cases... [Police Capt. Gary Wallace] said it was critical that police obtain as much information as possible on the source of the Molly 'that was distributed to students on the campus [Saturday] night.' Wallace said the 'side effects can be life threatening, and we are attempting to assist the medical providers in obtaining any and all information.'"

The National Institute for Drug Abuse describes the effects of MDMA:

Once the pill or capsule is swallowed, it takes about 15 minutes for MDMA to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. MDMA produces its effects by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of brain cells): serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

The serotonin system plays a role in controlling our mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and feeling of pain. The extra serotonin that is released by MDMA likely causes mood-lifting effects in users. People who use MDMA might feel very alert, or “hyper,” at first. Some lose a sense of time and have other changes in perception, such as a more intense sense of touch. Serotonin also triggers the release of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, which play a role in feelings of love, sexual arousal, and trust. This may be why users report feeling a heightened sense of emotional closeness and empathy.

Some users experience negative effects. They may become anxious and agitated, become sweaty, have chills, or feel faint or dizzy.

In 2013, molly-related deaths and illnesses forced the Electric Zoo Festival to shut down early. One woman apparently took six hits, and it a bad batch was supposedly to blame for numerous other deaths and illnesses in the Northeast. For the 2014 Electric Zoo, concertgoers had to watch an anti-drug PSA:

One Wesleyan freshman told NBC Connecticut, "I think that's why it's so shocking because it feels like that could never happen to anyone that you know. It's like no one is going to overdose, you know? Because it's so common, but then when it's in that grand of a scale it's scarier."