An accidental overdose of prescription medications killed a 20-year-old SDSU student who was found dead last spring following a party at a fraternity house at the campus, the Medical Examiner's Office reported Thursday.
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Barzeen Barzanji of Santee, a criminal-justice major who had planned to graduate from college next year, succumbed to acute intoxication from the painkiller oxycodone and alprazolam, an anxiety treatment marketed under the trade name Xanax, according to the county agency.
Barzanji was discovered unconscious and unresponsive in a bed at the Phi Kappa Theta house in the 5500 block of Aztec Walk on April 20, the morning after he went to a party there with a cousin. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Barzanji was not a member of that San Diego State fraternity house, but he was president of another one, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The 2009 West Hills High School graduate worked as a waiter at a P.F. Chang's restaurant.
Scripps Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center counselor Nancy Knott told 10News there is growing trend.
"Xanax and Oxycontin are flying all over college campuses and high schools. There's almost a mindset on campus and high schools [of] 'A few pills, whatever.' In a party situation, things fly all over the place. People lose track of what they're doing," said Knott.
SDSU sophomore Daniel Friesen, a member of Air Force ROTC, told 10News, "It's not stunning, particularly with the Greek system. Such abuse of substances is normal. I'm surprised it hasn't happened more often, in all honesty. It's sad; that's the reality of a lot of colleges in the nation."
SDSU senior Matt Rojas, who is a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, said, "I definitely don't think it's a reflection of how we Greeks on campus are really involved. I honestly think it was a personal mishap. It's not really a reflection of Phi Kappa Theta house. I think they're victims of circumstance; it just happened to occur there. It was tragic and it affected all of us in a really emotional and negative way."
Following the fatality, the university put the Phi Kappa Theta chapter on suspension, limiting its guest privileges and many of its activities, and requiring it to remain fully drug- and alcohol-free.
Administrators lifted that restricted status this week, after an investigation found no evidence that the fraternity bore any responsibility for Barzanji's death, according to SDSU spokeswoman Gina Jacobs.
The revocation of the suspension was unrelated to the medical examiner's newly released toxicology findings in the case, Jacobs said.
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