What is BZP?
BZP (Benzylpiperazine) is a synthetic stimulant derived from piperazine It is often seen as an alternative to ecstasy or amphetamine, although usually considered to be less potent than these drugs.
BZP is sold as a tablet, capsule or an off-white powder. BZP pills are marketed under a huge variety of names and the tablets come in many different shapes. Sometimes the BZP chemical can be found in ecstasy tablets.
Other piperazines include TFMPP, DBZP and mCPP.
The use of BZP has similar effects to other synthetic stimulants such as ecstasy or amphetamines. Users experience a sense of euphoria and increased alertness, enhanced senses and a raised heart rate, coupled with a decrease in appetite.
A number of adverse effects have been reported. These include vomiting and nausea, headache, tiredness, palpitations, anxiety, strange thoughts, mood swings and confusion. Some of these effects were reported to have occurred in the comedown period while others were experienced for up to 24 hours after use. There are reports of users not being able to sleep for up to ten hours after taking BZP pills.
More severe adverse effects may include fits and potentially life-threatening seizures. Serotonin syndrome may rarely be brought on by use of piperazines, as these drugs work by boosting the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin syndrome can cause a range of symptoms including overheating and tremors, and can be fatal.
- Piperazines, as with all synthetic stimulants, are best avoided if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, epilepsy or liver problems.
- If taken in hot clubs or while engaged in activity such as dancing be sure not to overheat. Take time out somewhere cool and sip water slowly (One pint /hour).
- Start low and go slow. Take a quarter to a half of a pill and wait a couple of hours to gauge the effects.
- Do not take these drugs with alcohol, other stimulants or other serotonin boosting medications like antidepressants.
Prevalence data on BZP and other piperazines is limited. Before piperazines were brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act in December 2009, most sales were conducted on the internet. The number of UK websites that sold the drug or websites based abroad that shipped to the UK suggested that there was a fairly significant number of users in this country.
An online survey conducted in late 2009 in collaboration with the magazine Mixmag showed that amongst this particular user group of clubbers 25.8% had ever tried BZP and 12.1% had tried it within last year (Winstock, 2010). In 2011, the same survey showed a drop with 17.2% having ever tried BZP and 5.0% having tried it within the last year