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Pembroke Academy sends email about Molly party drug to educate parents and students

20-year-old Olivia Rotondo, left in a Facebook photo, was studying communications at UNH. 19-year-old Brittany Flannigan, right in a 2012 Pinkerton Academy, yearbook photo, was going begin her sophomore year at Plymouth State University. (courtesy photos)

20-year-old Olivia Rotondo, left in a Facebook photo, was studying communications at UNH. 19-year-old Brittany Flannigan, right in a 2012 Pinkerton Academy, yearbook photo, was going begin her sophomore year at Plymouth State University. (courtesy photos)

Pembroke Academy is trying to stay one step ahead of drug abuse by reaching out to parents and students with educational information about the party drug “Molly,” which is responsible for the recent overdose deaths of two New Hampshire college students.

An email sent to Pembroke Academy parents this week warned against the drug, which is a form of ecstasy or MDMA, and its dangers. It acts as both a stimulant and a psychedelic, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Although use of this substance does not appear to be problematic with Pembroke Academy students at this time, we want to arm parents with information so that we can prevent issues down the road,” the email stated.

Jay Bachelder, intervention and prevention officer at Pembroke, said making students aware of the drug’s dangers before they encounter it could help prevent them from using a trendy new drug.

“I think there’s always been the new flavor, there’s something new and different all the time,” Bachelder said. “It’s hard to stay ahead of everything. I totally anticipate that this is something that we’ll be seeing in this area. If it’s not here already, it would just be a matter of time.”

Molly received considerable media attention following the overdose deaths of two young women with ties to New Hampshire within the last month. Brittany Flannigan, a 19-year-old Plymouth State University sophomore, died of an apparent MDMA overdose at an August concert in Boston. Twenty-year-old Olivia Rotondo, a native of Rhode Island studying at University of New Hampshire, died after allegedly taking the drug just one week later at a music festival in New York.

“We’re hearing that there is an increase in perception in young people that (Molly) is safer, that somehow there aren’t a lot of dangers,” Bachelder said. “We saw it as an opportunity to be proactive
. . . so that parents and young people have an accurate picture of this drug.”

The email included links and fact sheets with information about Molly and ecstasy from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Above the Influence. Since sending the email, Bachelder said he has received messages and calls from parents who want to know more.

“Initially, they want to know, is it because it’s in the school? Are kids here using this?” Bachelder said. “They just kind of want to know a little bit more and find out what it is. It’s an opportunity since they are inquisitive to go over the dangers and the risks involved with it.”

Students are also curious, Bachelder said, and teachers and counselors are trying to talk to them face-to-face about the dangers of the drug as well.

“I’ve had many kids approach me about it,” Bachelder said. “I know in some classrooms . . . here at school, there have been conversations about it.”

Drug abuse, including Molly, will also be one of the topics discussed at parent and community meetings later in the school year, Bachelder said.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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