There’s been a focus put on the connection between Xanax and the rise in teenage deaths due to overdose  because it’s the prescription drug that teens abuse most frequently. However, other benzodiazepines add to the numbers with Valium and Ativan showing up as well.

The statistics are a few years old now, but in 2017, benzodiazepines and other sedatives accounted for 20% of reported drug overdose deaths among young people aged 15-24. In 2018,  the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that 5% of 12 graders reported misusing these drugs within the past year.

Xanax hasn’t decreased in popularity by any means, in fact, it’s use is on the rise. Teens take if for the feelings of serenity that it induces.

Danger lurking

Mixing benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, with other drugs or alcohol marginally increases the user’s risk of overdose. The drug slows down heart and respiratory functions and alcohol and many other drugs enhance the reaction often leading to death.

Drugs and alcohol are commonly found at teenage gatherings.

As if that isn’t terrifying enough, drug dealers are purchasing illicitly manufactured “Xanax” from foreign distributors. Although marketed as the real thing, the drug is most often a very crude version. It’s likely to contain an unknown amount of alprazolam, the generic term for Xanax. Even more disturbing, other drugs are being mixed into the alprazolam.

They don’t see it coming

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, is often used as a filler when making mass quantities of black market Xanax. A mere 3 to 5 grains of the drug—approximately the size of grains of salt—is reported to be a lethal dose.

When users have no idea Fentanyl is a hidden ingredient in their drug of choice, they’re in grave danger of using too much too soon.

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be

Many teens believe that “partying” is a normal part of being a teenager. It’s easy to see how they get that idea. It’s shoved in their faces constantly. Television programs and movies glamorize drug and alcohol use. “Youtubers” and other famous icons promote the lifestyle.

And, teenagers around the world are taking it all in.

Sadly, though, many of them won’t live to tell the tale. Others will find themselves lost in the throes of an addiction that may last their entire lives. Lives cut short due to the abuse their bodies will sustain over time if not from overdosing.

Where it’s coming from

Sadly, physicians write millions of prescriptions every year. It’s widely used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. In fact, statistics show that Xanax use has risen by 66% over the past 20 years.

That boils down to a lot of teens finding the drug available in their own homes or in the home of a friend. If they don’t steal them from someone they know with a script, they can buy them from friends or dealers. They sell for about $6.00 a bar and a bar can be broken into 4 doses. Individual doses cost about $2.00.

You can purchase the drug online too. You’re certain to be getting a Xanax wannabe in that instance, of course. Teens surely think they’re pulling a fast one when beating their parents to the mailbox. In reality though, they’re playing a deadly game.

What to look for

The most common side effect of Xanax and other benzodiazepines is drowsiness or sleepiness. Other changes in behavior could include increased aggression or withdrawing from family and friends.

If you discover that a teenager you know is using drugs, it’s important that you address the situation. The human body quickly develops a tolerance to Xanax—that means our brain accepts its affect as being a normal occurrence. In order for the user to experience the reaction they’re accustomed to, they have to up the dosage.

Remember, teens are often taking black market drugs and the odds that they contain Fentanyl or other dangerously potent synthetic drugs, such as Carfentanil, rise with each batch smuggled into the country.

Talk to your teens about the dangers of drug use and the lasting effects it can have in regard to addiction. Stress the importance of never driving impaired or riding with someone who has used drugs or alcohol.

Reaching out

Drug use in America is out of control.

Receiving education about the dangers of drug use coupled with living with or knowing someone with a substance abuse problem is affecting America’s youth. The 2019 Monitoring the Future survey reports that overall teen drug use is down. The exception being marijuana use which stayed about the same.

We’ll share though that cigarette smoking is on the decline. There’s a marked increase in vaping. It’s the largest concern on this year’s survey.

The survey data is gathered from over 42,500 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from 396 schools across the country.

Although they haven’t grasped the danger associated with vaping and their health yet, they are learning about the dangers of other drugs. Many are choosing to refrain from taking that path.

Continued education may be out best defense. We can continue to reach out to people suffering with a drug addiction, but addiction is a hard thing to beat over the course of a lifetime. It often takes falling and starting at square one all over again.

We applaud those who continue to fight.

But, with continued education coupled with the real life evidence of witnessing someone who you know and love battling the disease, we could raise up a drug-free nation one day.

It could happen.