Xanax: The New Drug of Choice for Teens
What are Xanax?
If you ended up here, you are probably worried that your teenager may be abusing Xanax. If you’re not familiar with the drug, you must not be an avid social media follower or current pop culture fan. Don’t worry, we’re here to break down it’s rise in relevance and the danger in that trend for you.
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine (benzo), making it a sedative and an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug). In the United States, it’s classified as a regulated schedule IV substance. Sounds kind of dangerous, right? Perhaps something doctors would be very cautious about prescribing? Wrong. Over 5% of the adult population takes benzos. Xanax in particular is the #1 prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States.
A lot of parents don’t think twice when their teen is prescribed Xanax. When prescribed and taken properly, it can be extremely helpful to those struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder and Insomnia. What parent wouldn’t want their teen cured of such terrible diseases, right? The issue is that Xanax is often NOT prescribed and taken properly. Tolerance develops rather quickly with the drug, causing teens to often feel the need to take more than the dosage recommended by their doctor. All too often, teens will ask their doctors to up their dosage, citing the lessened effects.
Doctors are familiar with the warning signs of the start of addiction and frequently deny such requests. The issue, however is that your teen can easily find it elsewhere. The amount of prescriptions given out for alprazolam-containing drugs has increased by 67% since 1996, making it widely available on the streets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine who your teen is getting the drug from, as the sources don’t always look like the typical drug dealer. 70% of teens with a Xanax addiction get the drug from their own family’s medicine drawer. This means your child could be getting the drug from their childhood best friend, the kid down the street, or even you if you don’t keep a close eye on your pill bottle. Teens have cited feeling comfortable looking around and asking for the drug because it is such commonplace and consequently accepted among peers. They’re not wrong to feel that way; the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that teens are the most likely to use Xanax for non-medical purposes. The rate of abuse for those aged 18-25 was almost double that of those aged 26 and over.
Why are Xanax so Popular Among Teenagers?
The obvious answer as to why Xanax are so popular is the science behind the drug. Alprazolam is addictive because of the effects it has on the brain. It works by boosting the chemical GABAA in the brain which decreases the brain’s nerve cell activity. This decrease in activity reduces the feelings of anxiety and panic in patients and replaces it with a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Then, when it is taken in larger doses, the drug can induce euphoria. If your teen is taking this drug regularly, it won’t take them long to get hooked on this feeling. It takes about a week for users to become physically dependent on Xanax.
Another reason why Xanax are so popular among teenagers is because it has been normalized in today’s society. A generation of Soundcloud and ‘mumble’ rappers are quickly gaining popularity and dominating the rap scene, and they frequently rap about Xanax and its ‘positive’ effects. Future, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp reference and glorify the drug frequently. If these names sound familiar, it’s because Future’s self-title album is certified platinum, and all three have made it to the billboard 100 list. These rappers are idols to teens, and it’s no surprise they want to try the drug and brag about it just like they do.
Luckily, there is a counter-movement in the industry as well. After famous rapper Lil Peep died of an overdose in 2017, an anti-Xanax movement came to fruition. Lil Uzi Vert, a rapper whose work has gone quadruple platinum multiple times is now being candid with his struggle in moving towards sobriety after a Xanax addiction, and is attempting to motivate his fans to do the same. Lil Xan, a new popular rapper with a misleading name is doing the same. His name is meant to raise awareness about how harmful Xanax are. The rapper has suffered through multiple overdoses and has openly discussed his addiction on social media. He is constantly urging society to address the dangers of Xanax addiction and to avoid the fate of many famous rappers that he admires. These are just 2 rappers in a movement of many, and hopefully they will soon influence as many teens as the pro-Xanax rappers have.
Why is a Xanax Addiction So Dangerous?
Some parents are quick to brush off a Xanax addiction because it is so commonly prescribed by doctors so it is hard to accept that is so dangerous. It is important to realize, however, that the drug is extremely deadly when not taken properly. There were approximately 9,000 benzo-related deaths in 2015; that’s a 500% increase since 2000. Benzos are a depressant, so they slow the Central Nervous System (CNS). This means that they slow the breathing and the heart rate of those who use it and leave the body extremely vulnerable.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Xanax?
It is important to become familiar with the warning signs of a Xanax addiction, as it could save the life of your loved one. Some side effects of the drug that you may be able to spot are:
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Feelings of Elation
- Memory Issues
- Loss of Coordination
- Slurred Speech
- Sleeping for Extended Periods of Time
Another thing you should familiarize yourself with is the names that your teen could be using to refer to Xanax, such as:
- Brand names:
- Street Names:
- Blue Footballs
It is slightly more difficult to detect an addiction if your child is prescribed the pills. Some signs your teen has left the realm of normal usage are:
- They are taking multiple pills
- They’re altering the drug before taking it (injecting/snorting/blotting paper)
- They are combining Xanax with other drugs
If you do realize that your teen is suffering from a Xanax addiction, it’s important that you get them help immediately. We urge you to consider professional help, dangerous to attempt a Xanax detox process at home. Since the drug effects the Central Nervous System, it can be not wise to have your teen quit the drug cold turkey. If you wean them off of Xanax too abruptly, they can experience serious withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and even death. We have medical health professionals that will help your teen to come off the drug safely and stay off of Xanax for life.