Health officials in the Northwest Territories are warning residents an “illicit designer drug” is being sold as Xanax in the territory.
In an advisory on Wednesday morning, the territory’s chief public health officer said Flualprazolam, which has been associated with several deaths, had been detected in the NWT.
According to the advisory, Flualprazolam is more potent than Xanax and its effects, which include feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, last longer. It can take up to 30 minutes before users feel the effects of Flualprazolam and they can last between six and 14 hours.
The advisory states that unmonitored use of the drug can cause serious psychological and physical harm, particularly when combined with opioids or alcohol. That can include prolonged and severe sedation, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death.
While naloxone kits will not stop the effects of a benzodiazepine overdose, the advisory states they should still be used if a person is showing signs of an overdose as they can reverse the effects of opioids that may also have been consumed. Naloxone kits are available at all hospitals, health centres and pharmacies in the NWT.
Federal laws protect people involved in an overdose from being charged for possessing illicit drugs, a protection designed to encourage people to call for help if they experience or witness an overdose.
Signs of an overdose can include slow or absent breathing, blue nails and lips, gurgling or snoring, severe sleepiness, cold and clammy skin, and if a person is not moving or can’t be woken up.