The Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion of Mexico, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, pointed out this Tuesday that the sale of clonazepam —the controlled anxiolytic that requires a prescription and is used in the challenge that bears his name— could be sold in pharmacies or other sites without a prescription, which is a “violation of the general health law”. “That it is in the hands of the youth speaks of an abusive use,” he stated during his speech at the morning press conference.
The undersecretary has revealed that the Health system collected in January 45 cases of poisoning in 18 states of the country related to the clonazepam challenge. Those affected were “adolescents” and “tweens” between the ages of 10 and 19. Despite the aforementioned figure, Lopez-Gatell has indicated that this behavior (that of carrying out challenges of this type) “is not new”. “It’s been going on for many, many years, it’s documented. Now, with the use of social networks, both the dissemination of the challenge and the occurrence is easier”, stated the official, who has not specified the start date of this procedure.
He has pointed out that most cases of poisoning have been carried out in private homes and outside of class hours. “Although it has been reported around schools, actually five or six cases have been registered in schools,” she said. That same month, at least 15 minors between the ages of 10 and 11 were affected in one of Guanajuato; eight students in schools in Mexico City and Nuevo Leon; and seven in Veracruz.
The Cyber Police created the alert after detecting 10 videos on the platform. The challenge has created some skepticism, as there is an absence of examples on Tiktok and a lack of media reports or arrests related to the issue. From the capital authority, they assured this newspaper that the Secretary of Citizen Security opened an investigation folder and that arrests have been made for the illegal sale of this medicine, although they did not specify the exact number because the investigation “is still open.” .
The effect of searches in relation to the “clonazepam challenge” has spread on Tiktok, the main social network for generation Z (those born between the late 1990s and early 2000s). Among these searches, there are some alarming ones that feed the topic: “With what other medicine can you feel that?”, “How many tablets do you go to the hospital with?” There are even answers to these questions, such as the one that states that the correct number is four.
The researcher from the Department of Psychobiology and Neurosciences of the Psychology Faculty of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Zeidy Munoz-Torres told this newspaper that clonazepam is a prescribed medication, especially for people with epileptic seizures, although it is also useful to treat other types of problems, such as sleep. The researcher considered that the anxiolytic is dangerous when mixed with other medications, even leading to death, although she assured that the lethal dose of that drug alone “is very far away.”