NYC concert deaths put spotlight on new drug "molly"

Olivia Rotondo (left) and Jeffrey Russ both died of apparent MDMA overdoses at the Electric Zoo festival in New York City over the Labor Day weekend. Facebook

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- A designer drug made popular in song lyrics is blamed for causing two overdose deaths in New York over the weekend.

Olivia Rotondo (left) and Jeffrey Russ both died of apparent MDMA overdoses at the Electric Zoo festival in New York City over the Labor Day weekend.
Olivia Rotondo (left) and Jeffrey Russ both died of apparent MDMA overdoses at the Electric Zoo festival in New York City over the Labor Day weekend.
Facebook

Those who take the drug may not realize how dangerous it is.

More than 100,000 fans expected a three-day dance party on New York's Randall's Island, but the mayor's office cut the Electric Zoo festival short after two concert goers overdosed and died.

"The Department of Health did not want to see a re-occurrence," said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

The drug in question is MDMA, or "molly" -- a more pure, more potent form of ecstasy that police say claimed the lives of 23-year-old Rochester, N.Y., native Jeffrey Russ and 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo of Providence, R.I.

"Kids will often think of this as a very benign drug, and that is scary," said Dr. Damon Raskin, an addiction specialist.

Raskin said the drug lowers inhibitions, giving the user a sense of euphoria. This high gives way to a crash resulting in anxiety and depression.

"They will often mix ecstasy with other drugs, especially at parties, like alcohol and marijuana," Raskin said. "I think that the combination of these drugs makes them all the more toxic."

The scene at Electric Zoo in New York City.
The scene at Electric Zoo in New York City.
CBS News

In 2011, hospitals reported more than 22,000 MDMA-related emergency room visits -- a 120 percent increase from 2004, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

The club drug has made its way back into popularity, thanks in part to its glamorization in music and youth culture.

This is the third death in less than a week. A 19-year-old New Hampshire woman overdosed in Boston last week at a Zedd concert. One of some 40 artists forced to cancel appearances on Sunday.

MDMA, nicknamed "molly," has become glorified in pop and youth culture.
MDMA, nicknamed "molly," has become glorified in pop and youth culture.
CBS News

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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