Xanax and Youth

Xanax and Youth
By Craig Struble, LCSW LAC

As an addiction counselor, I have seen an increase in youth’s unprescribed use of Xanax. Alprazolam or Xanax is a medication that is used to help treat panic disorders such as anxiety. Xanax falls under the drug classification called benzodiazepines or benzos. Xanax is the top prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. This medication helps to bring a calmness to the brain’s nerves by enhancing how the natural GABA chemical in the body works. Like opioids, which have risen in concern in our society, Xanax also has the potential to become addictive without close monitoring and proper use.

Xanax is generally prescribed only to adults, but it has also become a street drug. Research has shown that just over 50 percent of non-medical users obtain this substance from friends or relatives. There is also research to support that nearly 70 percent of teenagers who are struggling with an addiction to Xanax, obtained the substance by going through their home medicine cabinet. Xanax is used at events such as parties or concerts to increase the effects of alcohol. Other effects that a person misusing might experience and associate with pleasure are lightheadedness, feeling detached, feeling numb from emotion, and an increase in sexual inclination.

People who use Xanax develop a tolerance very quickly, which will then lead to them taking more pills to achieve the desired effects. People with an addiction to Xanax might use 20 to 30 pills per day. Some signs that addiction is in play might be ignoring daily obligations to work, school, or family. Some additional behavioral signs of Xanax addiction might include obsessing about obtaining and using Xanax, inability to stop using Xanax despite desire to do so, and risky behaviors such as driving while using Xanax.

Someone who might have a dependence to Xanax should not quit cold turkey. Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax are like those experienced from alcohol withdrawal. Seizures or convulsions from Xanax withdrawal can be deadly. The withdrawal process should include a gradual taper from the drug.

If this drug has been prescribed to someone in the home, make sure it is stored in a locked location where only the prescribed has access.

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