Xanax is a prescription medication with real medical benefits, but it is often abused and used recreationally to achieve a ‘high’ or other desired effect. The non-medical use of Xanax is illegal, but it continues to be a problem across the U.S. In fact, Dr. Jane Carlisle Maxwell, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas School of Social Work, reports that recreational use of prescription medications is a growing problem – especially among teenagers and young adults.
Abuse of Xanax
Xanax is preferred among recreational drug users because it is easy to acquire and is fast-acting. The effects of Xanax are often magnified and enhanced when combined with other substances, such as alcohol. People who take alprazolam prior to drinking alcohol achieve an additive effect that makes the alcohol more potent than it is when consumed alone. Similar effects are achieved when Xanax is taken in combination with other drugs and substances.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that an average of 15.7 million adults and adolescents engaged in the non-medical use of prescription drugs every year between 2005 and 2011. Of those, more than 8 in 10 lived in urban or metropolitan cities rather than rural areas.
Often, people who abuse Xanax acquire the medication from a parent or friend. Some even get their own prescriptions by visiting a doctor or treatment facility. However, the prevalence of benzodiazepines makes it relatively easy to purchase illegally for as little as $1 per pill or less from dealers. Though it is not a stimulant or ‘party’ drug like ecstasy, some people use the tranquilizing effects of Xanax to bring them down from a stimulant-induced high.
Taking Xanax with Narcotics
Many young people and adults take and abuse prescription medications like benzodiazepines because they are perceived as less dangerous than ‘street’ drugs. However, despite being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Xanax and other benzodiazepines taken outside their intended use can be dangerous. This is especially true when Xanax is combined with narcotics, which is a popular combination among recreational users.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the combined use of benzodiazepines and narcotic pain killers was responsible for more than 33,700 emergency room admissions in the U.S. in 2010 alone. That is up from just over 5,000 in the year 2000.