Phenazepam, the Soviet-Made Designer Drug, Hits North Texas

Categories: Drugs

In case you missed the September 2012 issue of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, here's a heads up: phenazepam, a powerful anti-anxiety drug sometimes sold as "Zannie" or "bonsai," is hitting the U.S. streets.

It's not exactly a new product -- it was developed in the 1970s by Soviet scientists to treat epilepsy, anxiety and sleep disorders -- but only recently has its recreational use spread, first to Western Europe and now to the United States.

See also: Denton County Police Discover That They Make Marijuana Candy and Soda Now

It's several times more potent than valium, another benzodiazepine, and has been cited as the cause of a growing number of hospitalizations and deaths. Now -- cue the Sweeps Week-style freakout -- it's arrived in North Texas.

NBC 5 has the first report, which carries the rather misleading headline that the drug is being "eyed" in nine Tarrant County deaths.

What does that mean? Hard to tell, since the two examples reporter Scott Gordon provides of phenazepam-linked deaths are an 18-year-old high school student killed when he ran across a busy highway and lawyer Michael Schmidt, the Dallas lawyer who died in shootout with police after taking a cocktail of drugs that, while it did indeed contain the Soviet-designed pharmaceutical, also included cocaine, hydrocodone and Xanax.

Hard to pin either of those directly on phenazepam, as the story ultimately acknowledges, in a coda saying the drug "has not been named as the direct cause of death in any cases." The story remains quite adamant, however, about it being from Russia, a country now guilty of fumbling the opening ceremonies, egregiously violating the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors and exporting child-killing drugs.

Phenazepam currently isn't classified as a controlled substance under federal law (Arkansas and Louisiana have banned it), though dealers have been prosecuted on the grounds that it's not approved by the FDA for human consumption.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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16 comments
AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

Well heck, if you're going to tell us about a great new drug, the least you could do is tell us where we can buy it!!

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Looks like a bunch of DarWINs comin up.

Trip responsibly, children.

ruddski
ruddski

Stick to organics, like valium, kids.

hat2flat
hat2flat

I'll go with Scott Gordon over anyone at DO. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Why anyone considers the stupor that high doses of benzodiazepines a high, is something that confounds me.  Anxiety and panic disorder are real diseases that are successfully treated in the short term with this class of drug, in addition to long-term treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  Doctors are reluctant to prescribe benzodiazepines to people who would benefit from them simply because of their abuse on the street.  Same story with painkillers.  Patients with chronic pain should not have to beg their healthcare provider for these relief medicines.

dignalar
dignalar

@AdamsonScott  you can buy it online only go on google and type in buy rc's and you will find alot of drugs you can get high off includng this one just look out for scam but if your going to buy phenazepam you need a digital scale because it comes in grams and you need like 2 mg to get high

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Many people consider the stupor produced by heroin or morphine as a "high" as well. It's sort of a generic term.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

The problem with doctors restricting benzos is that people then turn to alcohol to moderate their anxiety. I know because I did it when my doc wouldn't give me klonopin any longer. Benzo addiction is a real thing, I've seen people trying to detox from them, but they're also a necessary aid to function for a lot of people. Not to get high, but to just function and go to work. I'd rather pop a klonopin in the morning than drink vodka as I drive to work.

juanmayeaux
juanmayeaux

@P1Gunter I have been in the same shape brother. My Cardiologist gave me a 3 month script of Klonopin for panic attacks and didn't have another one for 9 years. Now I get the attacks again, but no doctor will pull the trigger for me to get Klonopin. A couple of shots of alcohol usually helps, but that is not a solution for work. The Med, chase is really confusing.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@P1Gunter  Furthermore, you can go to a psychiatrist who will have no problem prescribing huge doses of Klonopin, which, for an unsuspecting patient would absolutely lead to devastating addiction.  A cautious primary would provide the best access to careful and conservative treatment of anxiety issues.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

My psychiatrist is who cut me off. I was taking one every morning to get me through work. When he cut me off I started drinking again and would drive to work with a bottle of vodka. Ironically, when I went to rehab for alcoholism, the first drug they gave me was librium......A benzo.

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