Death sticks were a mild hallucinogen primarily sold on Outer Rim worlds, but could be found in abundance on Coruscant. Originally developed in the illegal pharmaceutical labs of Coco Town, they were relatively cheap and were smuggled into the clubs of cities by slythmongers. The cilona extract offered euphoria in exchange for a horrific outcome, producing a twisted version of reality enhanced by bright colors. With each dose, the user's life was shortened, and the successive dosages took away larger chunks from a lifespan. With each successive dose, the desire for a harder reaction increased. It was thus very difficult for a youth to shake it off without medical assistance.
Death sticks came in two typical forms. In liquid form, they consisted of small tubes of red or yellow ixetal cilona fluid, which could be added to an alcoholic drink (some mixed them with Fizzyglug) or injected directly. A hardened variety containing dried granules of the drug could be smoked or pulverized and then inhaled. The drug weakened a person's connection to the Force.
Rehabilitation for death stick addiction was available at medical centers at a cost of typically 2,500 to 3,500 credits.
Death sticks were a devastating factor in Balosar society. Pollution was one of the causes of the heavy addiction to death sticks, but the Balosars' immunity to toxins allowed them to consume them without much effect other than the life-long addiction. Some Balosars even entered the death stick business, where they would travel in hopes of finding potential customers.
During the reign of the Galactic Republic, illegal trade in death sticks became the greatest competition to the spice from Ryloth called ryll. The rivalry resulted in a hatred between the Balosars and Twi'leks.
In 22 BBY, reporter Anjet Okeco wrote an article for HoloNet News about the use of death sticks among Coruscant's youth with Coruscant Health Officials estimating millions of children using them. Soon after, two students at a sub-adult school in the Jrade District were found in possession of death sticks.
Cade Skywalker used death sticks to ease his emotional pain and to keep his famous ancestor from speaking to him from beyond the grave. But Cade used force healing to keep the death sticks from causing any damage to his lifespan.