05 Jul Prescription Xanax Has Taken our Teens by Storm
In our previous blog article, we discussed how prevalent the benzodiazepine tranquilizer Xanax, also known as alprazolam has become in the United States, and how it has a high potential for addiction and dependence. One of the most concerning factors about the rapid increase in benzodiazepine abuse is that it has been seen to be rising ever-steadily in the younger generations of drug users, very commonly on high school and college campuses nationwide.
Xanax Abuse is a National Epidemic
According to SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on an average day in America over 5,000 adolescents would try prescription narcotics non-medically for the first time, and that in a typical day there would be an average 31 emergency room visits by adolescents for benzodiazepine misuse. Another alarming statistic is that compared to adults aged 26 and older, adolescents and young adults from the ages of 12-25 were much more likely to abuse prescription medication.
These results are staggering, and disconcerting for parents who are preparing to send their sons and daughters off on the bus to first period of high school or are packing the car and heading off to a four-year university or community college. What were once institutions of higher education and places where children are fostered into adulthood have become warzones on the frontlines of drug addiction in America. Unfortunately for many youth of this generation, drug culture has permeated every walk of life, and it seems that every source of stimulus in our current age be it music, movies or social media is saturated with references to a misleading fantasy of drug use free of consequence.
American Youth are More Susceptible to Xanax Addiction
Though the majority of students or adolescents are not drug seeking, often those who are uninformed or susceptible to peer pressure may find themselves in positions where they have to make a very difficult decision; use drugs to fit in with friends and become accepted into social circles they are attracted to or abstain and face embarrassment or rejection.
Not to mention, teens are curious beings and often see prescription drug use as experimentation and don’t realize things have gotten out of hand until much too late. Because prescription drugs, such as Xanax and other benzodiazepines are created in a laboratory and given out by doctors, they are often mistaken by teens as safe. But as we have discussed previously Xanax is highly addictive as well as dangerous.
Why Xanax Specifically?
It is a common known fact that teen drug abuse is on the rise, but why are teens turning to harder drugs such as Xanax? When properly prescribed, Xanax does have many medical benefits to those who suffer from severe anxiety or panic disorder and those who experience schizophrenia or other personality disorders. Unfortunately more often it is found in the hands of illicit drug users and due to the relatively high percentage of Xanax prescriptions compared to other drugs, it is not difficult to find.
The plain and simple truth is that Xanax is a drug that is used to reduce anxiety, stress and fear so that is the main reason adolescents seek the drug, because of the calming effects produced by it. These include euphoria, muscle relaxation, increased appetite and reduced inhibitions. These are perfect quick fixes that students struggling with social anxiety and educational stress look for. To go along with these there are a myriad of negative side effects associated with Xanax abuse, and these should be signs parents look out for if they suspect their child is abusing Xanax. These include short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness and seizures to name a few.
Xanax is the Most Abused Prescription Drug
Another reason that Xanax has quickly risen to the most abused prescription drug in the community of young people is that it is quite easily accessible compared to other drugs or even alcohol. Because alprazolam has become so widely prescribed on such a massive scale, it is that much more likely that a prowling teenage addict could stumble across the pills in a parent’s medicine cabinet or friends room.
Often, adolescent drug abuse has correlation with absence from school and juvenile delinquency and should always be investigated if other negative behavior patterns are noticed. Unfortunately for the experimental or adventurous teen, what may seem like a harmless high can quickly turn disastrous though, as we have seen massive increases in teenage admissions to treatment facilities for Xanax.
Combining Xanax with Alcohol is Lethal
Lastly, Xanax may have become so popular with younger crowds because of its ability to have similar effects as alcohol, and when combined with even a small amount of it can greatly exacerbate the side effects. For example, one dose of Xanax alone might have similar effects on a person as four alcoholic drinks. But combine that Xanax with one or two beers, and it could be like drinking an entire 12-pack or more, with the onset of effects happening in less than an hour and lasting anywhere up to 24 hours. The sheer power of this drug to magnify other drugs is not only extremely dangerous and misunderstood, but what makes it so popular with drug seekers who may not have access to alcohol due to age along with limited resources.
What Can Be Done About Xanax Addiction?
In my personal opinion, one of the biggest reasons kids today find themselves doing drugs is unawareness. I believe most people are just generally uneducated about the effects of certain drugs and the potential for serious harm and destruction that they can cause. It isn’t guaranteed that just because an adolescent knows the possible consequences of Xanax use that they won’t take one at a party, but its definitely more likely that they will decide to abstain if they do. Another course of action is educating parents, family members and teachers about just how prevalent prescription drug abuse is for youth and young adults.
If people close to the user are able to identify patterns that signify drug-using behavior it is much more likely that the addict will seek recovery. Monitor your own prescription pills and try to create open lines of communication that are safe enough for the addict to confide in someone about their drug use. In my own experience, a lot of my curiosity stemmed from naiveté, which lead me into situations where I was exposed to drugs. If honest and open communication can be presented about drugs from the beginning I believe adolescents will be armed with the facts about drugs, instead of intrigued by their mysticism.
We Must Educate Ourselves About Addiction
Though addiction to Xanax as well as numerous other prescription pills is a massive current issue, it should be known that treatment has been found to be very successful, especially in youth who area able to recognize early on that they have a substance abuse disorder and are willing to do something about it. There are many different options for treatment including detox and inpatient rehab facilities, 12-step based meetings, support groups and in some cases help from professional substance abuse doctors and psychiatrists. Any combinations of these are very helpful to the struggling adolescent, and in many cases sobriety can be attained before serious complications present themselves.