Posted on September 30, 2015 in Alcohol and Drug News

New Recreational Drug Etizolam Is Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare

A string of teen deaths and medical scares in recent years is incriminating etizolam, a dangerous newcomer to the recreational drug scene. The narcotic, which mimics the effects of traditional benzodiazepine sedatives like Valium and Xanax, is growing in popularity among today’s teens and across college campuses, thanks to its easy online availability and a still largely unregulated market for drugs like it. Etizolam is currently a prescription medication in Japan, India and Italy but has recently emerged on the illicit drug market in Europe and the United States.

More Etizolam-Related Deaths, Serious Complications Among Teens

That has parents like one Chicago-area mother sounding the alarm. She discovered her son had ordered 10 packages of etizolam online, and was hiding his reserves in the cut out, middle section of a book.

“He had a seizure,” the mother, who requested anonymity, told CBS News’ Chicago affiliate. “It was almost 10 minutes long.”

Her son ended up in rehab. Other teens have not been so lucky. Last year, a popular 19-year-old musician died after taking just one etizolam pill that he bought on the Internet. He is one of a number of teenagers whose pursuit of a legal high in the form of online purchases of etizolam has cost them their lives.

Dangers of Etizolam Abuse

Serious complications like seizures, loss of consciousness, heart and respiratory failure, and death join other dangers linked to etizolam abuse among teens and college students:

  • While the jury may still be out on whether the drug is as addictive as the benzodiazepines it copies, people who abuse etizolam can easily overdose.
  • Withdrawal symptoms associated with etizolam can be as serious as the drug’s potential side effects. These include insomnia, anxiety, seizure and death.
  • The drug is available in several forms, including powder, meaning that it can easily make its way into other dangerous teen concoctions, like the ever-popular “Dirty Sprite,” a potentially deadly cocktail made from soft drinks like Sprite, prescription painkillers and sometimes candy for flavoring.
  • Etizolam currently goes undetected in drug tests, prompting concerns that with the rise of etizolam use on college campuses, the sedative could become the next date rape drug.

How Etizolam Works

Like other sedatives, etizolam slows down brain and respiratory activity, which is why, in some countries, doctors prescribe the drug for conditions like anxiety and insomnia.

In the U.S., where etizolam may be used legally only for research purposes, the narcotic has been the focus of a number of clinical studies in recent years investigating its potential for treating not just anxiety and insomnia, but headaches as well.

Meanwhile, the dangers of etizolam abuse among teens won’t be going away anytime soon. Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers shows a steady rise in etizolam-related calls since 2011, and reports of teen overdoses requiring emergency medical treatment are popping up around the country. The drug is not a controlled substance in the United States, unlike traditional benzodiazepines.

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