Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders and insomnia. It is extremely addictive when used long-term. Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Seventy percent of teens with a Xanax addiction get the drug from their family’s medicine cabinet.
Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, requiring the user to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects, such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that a physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.
Once a Xanax addiction has taken hold, daily responsibilities, such as school, work or family, are ignored as energy is redirected towards drug seeking behavior.
signs of Xanax addiction include:
If a user wishes to stop taking Xanax after dependence on the drug has formed, it is not recommended to quit “cold turkey” or without medical supervision. The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, and the severity of the symptoms can vary. If convulsions occur, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly.
Normally, the withdrawal process involves slowly reducing the dosage of Xanax and eventually switching the user to a long-acting form of the drug for a period of time. The gradual taper of this drug helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax addiction and abuse has become the new club drug, becoming increasingly pervasive due to constant mentions in pop culture. Instagram celebrities, rappers, and stars mention, glorify, and even sell Xanax. It is thought of as more harmless than other drugs – a way to relax, have fun, and feel a mild high without much risk3. However, that is not the case with the introduction of fentanyl. Nightclub overdoses have become an increasing danger with the wide distribution of Fentanyl-laced Xanax.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, and 100 times stronger than morphine1. Though it is used under the careful watch of doctors to treat acute pain, it is incredibly powerful and poses a risk of death within a matter of hours when taken unsupervised. Though some individuals are more sensitive to the drug than others, it poses a danger to anyone who ingests it – knowingly or unknowingly. Fentanyl has become lethal to the club scene.
Thousands die of overdoses every year, and many of those deaths are related to opiates. In addition to all the tragic deaths that do not make the news, several high profile deaths have drawn awareness to the dangers of fentanyl-laced Xanax. Tosh Ackerman, a native of Aptos California, was found dead by his girlfriend at the young age of 29. The cause of death was determined to be a quarter of Xanax laced with fentanyl. He did not know that the Xanax was counterfeit and laced with opiates. Sources, including his mother, report that he only wanted to take Xanax to get some sleep2.
In addition to the nationally covered case of Tosh Ackerman’s death, a celebrity rapper passed away from eerily similar causes. Friends found Lil Peep dead before a performance in Tucson, Arizona. The doctor who performed the autopsy determined the cause of death to be an overdose of Xanax laced with fentanyl. Before his untimely death, Lil Peep publicly promoted the use of Xanax, showing himself popping pills on social media1.
Presumably, Tosh Ackerman did not intend to take Xanax laced with fentanyl. It is not known whether Lil Peep intended to take a fentanyl-laced substance, or pure Xanax. In both cases, the drugs were used without the permission or care of a prescribing physician or pharmacist. A high percentage of the Xanax sold on the street is counterfeit, laced with fentanyl and other stronger substances.
The motive behind lacing Xanax with other substances, including fentanyl, is twofold. First, it makes the drug and the high stronger. This caters to users who are looking for a more intense high. Secondly, because the drug is stronger, it costs more. Dealers are greedy and opportunistic. Illegal though their enterprise may be, dealers want to make a bottom line, despite the dangers of counterfeit drugs.
Dealers know how to market to and manipulate their buyers. If they perceive that a buyer wants a more intense high, they use the tactic of playing up the strength of fentanyl. However, if they perceive that the buyer wants pure, unadulterated Xanax, they may lead the buyer to believe the drug is the real thing. In those cases, the buyer is unwittingly using a much stronger substance.
In addition, some dealers do not know where the drugs they sell are coming from. They may believe they are dealing pure Xanax, when in fact, it is laced with fentanyl or another substance. Several individuals or “middle-men” are involved in the path a drug takes from manufacturer to user. Buying street drugs leaves safety in the hands of people the buyer does not know, meet, or even see.
No club drugs are safe from the risk of tampering and lacing. While all use of drugs outside of the prescribed dosage to the proper individual is illegal, some use is far more dangerous. In the case of drugs in the club scene, the unfortunate truth is that very young people use these substances. Club drugs are most common with individuals between eighth grade and college3. These substances included GHB, ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine, LSD, and Rohypnol. The goal of club drugs is most often to enhance partying, drinking, and having sexual experiences – no matter the risk.
Users wrongly assume street Xanax is less dangerous than these drugs, because it is something people are frequently prescribed for anxiety and depression. A teen who uses Xanax may believe it to be safe because a parent, guardian, or older sibling safely uses Xanax. However, fentanyl is more dangerous than heroin. A young person or club goer may aim to take a mild drug compared to something like LSD, and get something much stronger and just as dangerous, if not more so.
The best way to reduce the risk of an overdose on Xanax laced with fentanyl is to recognize when someone is struggling with addiction and get help. If you know someone who may be addicted but is not willing to admit that they have a problem, Addiction Treatment Group may be able to help. Addiction Treatment Group will travel to your location to intervene in a loved one’s addictive patterns of behavior and create a family-focused treatment plan that gets to the bottom of why the user seeks drugs, and to help reduce risk with education and support.
Intervention 365 is based out of Philadelphia, PA and is focused on drug and alcohol addiction abuse and has over 300 successful interventions. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction give us a call. 888-972-8513.
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