PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local harm reduction group has confirmed that a new drug called “Benzo Dope” has been found in Central Illinois.

JOLT Harm Reduction Peoria detected this new drug while conducting mass spectrometer testing, the group announced on Facebook Monday morning.

Benzo Dope is a blend of benzodiazepines and an opiate such as heroin or fentanyl.

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed as sedatives because they slow brain activity and reduce a person’s reaction to stimulus. Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Ativan (lorazepam) are commonly prescribed benzodiazepines.

This mix of sedatives and opioids is particularly dangerous, JOLT said, because it increases the risk of overdose; both benzos and opioids are depressants, leading to suppressed breathing and lowered heart rate at increased risk.

The risk of side effects such as dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness is also increased. Additionally, withdrawal from benzos can result in seizures and death.

The effects of opioids can be reversed with Narcan, or naloxone. However, naloxone has no effect on benzos.

The variety of Benzo Dope found in Central Illinois is gray and purple in color and has a grainy texture.

JOLT Harm Reduction Peoria shared the following tips to reduce the risk of a Benzo Dope overdose.

  1. The obvious answer is to not use it at all.
  2. Test your substance prior to using. New laws in Illinois allow for the testing of illicit substances if one is enrolled in a state-recognized harm reduction program, like JOLT. JOLT uses chemical reagents to identify adulterants in drug samples.
  3. Have plenty of naloxone on hand.
  4. Don’t use alone or behind a locked door.
  5. Start low and go slow. Do a tester shot first before slamming the whole dose.
  6. Report overdose reversals to JOLT. We do not collect personally identifying information but do look for trends in the street drugs that may increase the risk of overdose so we can tailor our interventions.

If you are interested in getting free naloxone or are interested in seeking medication-assisted recovery options, such as Suboxone, contact JOLT at 309-966-3643.