Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Synthetic drugs seized in Downstate Montgomery County

All eyes have been on the growing opioid crisis in Illinois, but there are other drugs circulating in communities that are just as dangerous — and they are legal.

Law enforcement in Montgomery County recently seized two synthetic drugs, flubromazolam and etizolam. These drugs are similar to sedatives prescribed for anxiety.

Michael Wahl, the medical director of the Illinois Poison Center, said both synthetic drugs are relatively uncommon.

“There were 26 seizures of etizolam in 2017, only 10 in 2016, one in 2015 and zero in 2014,” Wahl said. “There’s been a gradual increase in terms of police seizure, but we haven’t seen a lot of deaths.”

Wahl said these synthetic drugs can be purchased over the internet so there is a possibility that more people can gain access to them.

“The concept of regional distribution doesn’t really exist anymore when you are looking at synthetic drugs,” Wahl said. “Anybody can order it and then become a dealer or sell it to a dealer where it can then be distributed in the community.”

Wahl added synthetic drugs are strong and could potentially be fatal. “They are essentially research chemicals and nobody is really sure of the dose,” Wahl said.

“Even if you know the dose, what is being mixed up in somebody’s kitchen is not going to be as accurate as what is done by a pharmaceutical company.”

Wahl said synthetic drugs fall under a huge category that also includes bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

He said making many of these drugs illegal can be difficult.

“Chemists can just change one molecule,” Wahl said. “It’s a brand new structure but still acts on the same parts of the brain so it’s really a continuous game of cat and mouse of finding it and making it illegal.”

–Illinois News Network

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