Recent reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) show that there has been an increase in Xanax abuse in recent years. There are a number of reasons this is happening. Here’s what to look out for.
From 2005 to 2011, the number of emergency room admissions due to Xanax abuse rose from 57,000 to 124,000. In 2011, Xanax was the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug. Xanax is a benzodiazepine, which is a highly addictive class of drug that leads to thousands of overdose cases every year. When combined with drugs or alcohol, Xanax abuse is extremely life-threatening.
Over-Prescription of Xanax
One of the main causes of Xanax abuse is the over-prescription of these dangerous drugs. While many people do indeed suffer from anxiety disorders, anti-anxiety medications like Xanax are often prescribed to people who have experienced mild anxiety on occasion but do not actually have an anxiety disorder. After using Xanax for a while, many people find that they cannot relax or relieve their anxiety without the drug. Rather than helping patients find non-pharmaceutical means of treating their anxiety, such as meditation, exercise and hobbies, doctors prescribe addictive medications like Xanax. Many individuals who are seeking a prescription for Xanax will engage in “doctor shopping,” in which they visit multiple doctors until they find one who will write them the prescription they want. According to the DEA, some people who abuse Xanax will forge prescriptions in order to obtain the drug.
Lack of Education
Unfortunately, a lack of education is often the cause of Xanax abuse. Xanax is a highly addictive benzodiazepine. When it is used in combination with alcohol or other drugs, it can become even more addictive. However, many people who take Xanax – either with a legitimate prescription or recreationally – do not know the dangers of Xanax abuse. Many people, especially adolescents, assume that if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, it must be safe. This is not true and results in many cases of Xanax addiction every year. In order to combat Xanax abuse, SAMHSA plans to create more education initiatives that warn people of the dangers of Xanax abuse and inform people of how to dispose of unused medications properly. State governments are also working to establish rigorous record systems for tracking Xanax prescriptions written by doctors who might be over-prescribing to individuals who may be doctor shopping. Sources: Bushak, L. (2014). ER Visits Linked To Xanax Abuse Increase: Patients Mix Psychiatric Drug With Other Prescription Pain Killers, Alcohol. Drug Enforcement Agency. (n.d.). Drug Fact Sheets. Nature World News. (2014). Xanax Abuse Rising in US; SAMHSA Report.