(CBS) — A drug legal to take, and used for date rape, is in the cross hairs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It also has a local mom speaking out to CBS 2’s Dave Savini in order to help others.
It is called Etizolam and is considered a research drug. The way it is manufactured keeps it off the list of drugs illegal to sell, even though it can be dangerous.
A Chicago area mom, who does not want her name used, wants to expose this drug she says she found her son using and hiding inside of a book cut in the middle to conceal the drugs.
“I’m worried because it’s so easy to get,” the mother says. “He ordered 10 boxes online.”
Etizolam is one molecule short of being labeled a benzodiazepine drug like Xanax or Valium. It is in a group of drugs called research chemicals, which are legal to take. Federal authorities say this drug is trending on the street, and they are seeing it being shipped into this country more frequently.
Pills are being seized and destroyed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at O’Hare International Airport because the drugs are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Customs Agent Brian Bell says.
“It’s incredibly dangerous,” he says. “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.”
The Etizolam shipments are coming from India and going to U.S. website owners who buy them for pennies a pill, then sell them for a huge profit.
The danger is real says the Naperville mom, whose son is now in rehab.
“He had a seizure,” she said. “It was almost 10 minutes long.”
Drug users are taking Etizolam, and other research chemicals, because they do not show up on drug tests. There is another reason, explained Jack Riley, who heads the Chicago office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Right now, it’s not illegal, and I think that’s the big issue,” Riley says.
Riley says Etizolam also is being used as a date-rape drug because it lowers inhibitions and creates an amnesia-like affect.
“That’s why we got to do something very quickly here at the local and state level, and then move on to federal legislation,” Riley says.
He appreciates the Naperville mother for telling her story.
“She’s a hero. We need more like her,” said Riley. “Otherwise, it kind of stays below the surface.”
There are proposals pending to ban Etizolam in 2 other states. A federal ban requires an act of Congress and that could take years.