At least one person in the Peoria area has been hospitalized after taking what they thought was Xanax, but turned out to be bath salts.
JOLT Harm Reduction recently tested three “Benzo bars” — a form of Xanax — and all turned out not to be the substance they were presented as.
“Even if it’s illicitly, most people take [Xanax] for therapeutic reasons,” said Chris Schaffner, JOLT’s program director. “They think it’s going to help with anxiety or manage stress. So they take this medication that they think is Xanax and it turns out to be bath salts, and that has a different impact on the body’s physiology. It tends to be more of a stimulant and a hallucinogen.”
Schaffner said this is not the only instance of false advertising on the local illicit drug market.
“What we’ve found lately is that so much of the drugs in Peoria are not accurately represented,” he said. “So you think you’re buying cocaine — we tested some cocaine and found out that it was just straight methamphetamine.”
Schaffner said abstinence is the most effective way to protect against drug overdoses or other adverse reactions. But if someone is going to use, it’s best to test the substance beforehand.
“The idea of drug testing kind of flies in the face of this idea that people who use drugs are just not smart and they’re impulsive and they’re chaotic in their substance use,” Schaffner said. “In reality, most people are using drugs for therapeutic reasons — even if they’re illicit drugs — and they want to do it the safest way possible.”
JOLT offers reagent testing for all substances, as well as fentanyl test strips.
Schaffer also recommends never using drugs unsupervised and to always have Narcan on hand to counteract an overdose, even if the substance isn’t supposed to contain opioids.