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Fifteen grade school students in Mexico are hospitalized after doing ‘tranquilizer challenge’

Pictured: A young girl in Mexico talks about using clonazepam in a video she posted on TikTok

More than a dozen children have been hospitalized in Mexico after copying a dangerous internet trend that involves taking tranquilizers and fighting sleep.

Fifteen fifth and sixth in Guanajuanto, central Mexico, were hospitalized in recent days – while students in other parts of the country also reported illnesses.

The ‘tranq challenge’ – which went viral in Mexico – typically sees people take the sedative clonazepam, a seizure and anxiety drug.

It comes weeks after a report of eight students in the capital Mexico City falling ill from clonazepam abuse, and three more cases in the northern city of Monterrey.

Students would use the drug – a controlled benzodiazepine similar to Xanax – and see who could stay awake the longest despite its the drowsiness it causes as a side effect.

The trend emerged on social media, and has officials asking parents to monitor their young children’s use of these websites. It comes as the US Surgeon General  asked parents to pull children under 16 off of these platforms altogether. 

Mexican officials warn that dozens of children have fallen ill after using the anti-anxiety medication Rivotril for a challenge they saw on social media. On mayor is saying kids should not be on these platforms altogether (file photo)

Mexican officials warn that dozens of children have fallen ill after using the anti-anxiety medication Rivotril for a challenge they saw on social media. On mayor is saying kids should not be on these platforms altogether (file photo)

Alejandro Navarro, mayor of Guanajuanto, wrote on his Facebook page urging parents to crackdown on their children’s social media use.

‘As a rule, girls and boys shouldn’t have social media accounts, it’s bad to start with,’ he said on Facebook. 

Mexican officials first warned of the challenge on January 25, one week after the students fell ill in Mexico City.

All of the sick children are believed to be in fifth or sixth grade. This means they are all likely between ages ten and 12.

There is no available information on these students’ current condition. 

A prescription is required to obtain clonazepam, marketed under Rivotril south of the border, in Mexico.

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But officials fear the children could have bought the drugs over-the-counter – and have warned stores against illegally selling the controlled substance.

Clonazepam works by slowing down a person’s central nervous system – allowing them to relax.

Its strongest common side effect is intense drowsiness, but if someone uses too much it can lead to an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, low blood pressure, seizures and trouble breathing.

The most serious cases could lead to a coma or death, as a person’s breathing slows down so much it causes damage to the brain.

Like other benzos, clonazepam is highly addictive. A person can become dependent on it after only a few weeks use.

It is currently unclear how much of the drugs the children hospitalized took. Dosages of clonazepam are calculated by weight, and it is possible the young children suffered an overdose if they took adult-sized amounts of it.

Fears over these types of challenges, and the other harms of social media to youth around the world, have some leading officials calling for a crackdown.

Over the weekend, Dr Vivek Murthy, America’s surgeon general, told CNN that children under the age of 16 should not be allowed on social media.

‘I believe 13 is too early,’ he said.

‘And I think that it’s a time, early adolescence, where kids are developing their identity, their sense of self…And the skewed and distorted environment of social media does a disservice to many children.’

On top of the risk of spurring children to take part in dangerous activities like the ‘tranq challenge’ – studies also have linked social media use to poor mental health. 

A 2020 report by researchers from Johns Hopkins University linked the surge in teen mental health issues in the 2000s to the advent of social media.

Another Johns Hopkins team found in 2019 that students who spend more than three hours per day on social media platforms show more significant risks of severe mental health problems.

Researchers found a strong link between time spent on social media and the likelihood of developing depression when looking at more than two-dozen studies.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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