Benzylpiperazine (BZP) is a recreational drug with euphoric, stimulant properties. The effects produced by BZP are comparable to those produced by amphetamine. Adverse effects have been reported following its use including acute psychosis, renal toxicity, and seizures. No deaths have been reported following a sole ingestion of BZP, although there have been at least two deaths from the combination of BZP and MDMA. Its sale is banned in a few countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and other parts of Europe.
However, its legal status is currently less restrictive in some other countries such as Canada, although investigations and regulations are pending under European Union laws.
BZP is a piperazine derivative which comes as either the hydrochloride salt or a free base. The hydrochloride salt is a white solid while the base form is a slightly yellowish-green liquid. BZP base is corrosive and causes burns. BZP is often marketed ostensibly as a "dietary supplement" to avoid meeting stricter laws that apply to medicines and drugs, despite the fact that BZP has no dietary value. As of late 2005, the Misuse of Drugs Act ensured it can no longer be classified or marketed as a dietary supplement in New Zealand. Some retailers claim that BZP is a "natural" product, describing it as a "pepper extract" or "herbal high," when in fact the drug is entirely synthetic, and has not been found to occur naturally.
In the early 1990s, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration noted the drug was being used recreationally in California. It also reported that BZP was being used as an adulterant in illicit drugs. Not long after, there was an explosion in the drug's use worldwide — a situation which was soon followed by legislative control in many countries. Since 1999, benzylpiperazine use grew sharply in New Zealand, where there was initially a complete lack of regulation. The New Zealand government attempted to ban the product as of December 18, 2007, but the necessary second reading of the bill did not happen in time for the law to be passed. It was so widely used that an estimated 5 million pills were sold in New Zealand in 2007. Piperazine-based stimulants began to appear in Europe in 2000 but remained virtually unavailable in the rest of the world until recently.
In early 2006, pills containing the active ingredients BZP and TFMPP began to appear in the city of Vancouver, Canada, where they first gained popularity with late night party-goers as a safer alternative to many of the illicit street drugs commonly available there. In 2007 piperazine based party-pill formulations started to become widely available nationwide which has caused concern with local authorities such as Health Canada and subsequently BZP has gained much media attention in 2008. In the United States, it is still used as an adulterant in ecstasy mimic tablets.
The effects of BZP are largely similar to amphetamines, with one study finding that former amphetamine addicts were unable to distinguish between dextroamphetamine and BZP administered intravenously. Users report alertness, euphoria and a general feeling of well being. The perception of certain sensations such as taste, colour or music may be subjectively enhanced. The average duration is longer than that of dextroamphetamine, typically lasting 4–6 hours with reports as long as 8 hours depending on the dose.A recent study has shown that mixtures of BZP with other piperazine drugs such as TFMPP share certain pharmacodynamic traits with MDMA.
Upon ingestion of between 50 mg and 200 mg of BZP, the user may experience any or all of the following:
* Feelings of euphoria, wonder, amazement, well-being, energy and elation
* Rapid mood elevation
* Enhanced sociability
* Enhanced appreciation of music
* Increased desire to move, also slight increase in stereotypy
* "Rushing" sensation
* Skin tingling
* Decreased appetite
* Repetitive thought patterns
* Actual and perceived changes in body temperature
* Mild jaw clenching/bruxism
* Increased heart rate
* Dilation of pupils (see photo)
* Slight nausea
* Mild xerostomia (dry mouth)
* Mild headache
* Hangover-like symptoms (common with high doses)
* Increased hunger (and sometimes thirst)
According to party pill manufacturer Matt Bowden, over 20 million pills containing BZP have been consumed in New Zealand with no available record attributing deaths or lasting injuries to a single ingestion of BZP. Additionally, a retrospective study carried out at an Auckland emergency department found that BZP presentations only made a minor contribution to their overdose database with most cases not producing any significant toxicity. Several cases where BZP individually or combined with alcohol or other medicines or illicit drugs resulting in complications exist. One such example is the well publicised case of a combination of BZP and MDMA by a 23 year old from Greymouth, New Zealand. Ben Rodham, a DJ, ingested a combination of BZP and MDMA in February 2007, which nearly resulted in his death. Rodham was put into an induced coma in an effort to prevent him from dying. He later recovered.
After many millions of doses consumed worldwide, two deaths have been officially recorded in correlation with the use of BZP, although no causal relationship has been proven.
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