Hospitals around the country have seen a spike in the number of emergency room visits linked to a prescription drug known as etizolam. This dangerous and relatively little-known sedative has garnered a lot of unwanted attention lately. Firstly, it isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, etizolam is undetected by most drug tests. As if those warning signs weren’t enough, the majority of new ER patients are teenagers.
The Dark Side of Etizolam
Though etizolam is nearly identical to sedative drugs like Xanax and Valium, it is still categorized as a “research chemical.” That makes it legal, at least for now. With thousands of etizolam pills now being seized and destroyed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents around the country, the drug is squarely on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s radar.
As of 2014, etizolam has not been approved for use in the United States. That certainly hasn’t stopped Internet dealers from selling online. One quick search for the product turns up literally hundreds of pills for sale. Unsuspecting teens purchase these pills from foreign underground pharmacies, never realizing the imminent dangers.
Etizolam’s effects include sedation, relief of mental anxiety, stress, and prevention of muscle spasms. Teenagers, however, tend to mix etizolam with other drugs, hoping to intensify the sedative effects of alcohol or other prescription medications. Additionally, teens use etizolam to “come down” after using stimulant drugs like meth or cocaine.It hasn’t been tested. There have been cases where it’s linked to respiratory failure, heart failure, seizures.-Customs Agent Brian Bell
Earlier this year, 18-year-old Adam Hunt collapsed in his bedroom after taking etizolam purchased from the Netherlands. He was discovered by his mother, who immediately called for an ambulance. Doctors were forced to put the teenager in a medically induced coma shortly after his arrival to the hospital. Hunt died four days later.
Etizolam creates a number of dangerous health issues, especially when mixed with alcohol. Doctors warn that it can sedate to the extent of passing out. While unconscious, victims’ respirations can slow to a life-threatening pace. Others vomit in their sleep and, upon aspirating, choke to death.
“It hasn’t been tested. There have been cases where it’s linked to respiratory failure, heart failure, seizures. Why somebody would want to put this in their body is absolutely beyond me,” said U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Customs Agent Brian Bell.
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