In recent years, drug problems throughout high schools have become a more prevalent issue. According to surveys by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most common drugs abused by teens between 8th and 12th grade are marijuana and prescription drugs.
Since marijuana is the most publicized and talked about drug that’s used and abused throughout high schools, it’s become the highlight of the debate deciding what is or isn’t safe for teens. The debate of whether or not marijuana should be made legal due to the possible dangers of it has almost completely covered up the issue of just how dangerous prescription drugs are and how much more popular and easily obtained they’ve become, specifically an anti-anxiety pill known as Xanax.
Xanax is classified as a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant that’s essentially used as a sedative or tranquilizer. It’s main purpose is to slow brain activity so that it can treat anxiety, sleep disorders, acute stress reactions or panic/anxiety attacks. In order to obtain a drug such as Xanax, a doctor must prescribe it to you under a diagnosis of anxiety or some form of a sleep disorder.
“At first, it was a new feeling of relief because I wasn’t having the symptoms anymore but my feelings towards them have changed more and more” said Portage Central junior Alesondra Valle, a prescribed user.
Xanax is used to balance and boost a chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. If a person doesn’t have the unbalance of GABA in their brain and proceeds to take Xanax unprescribed, a series of side-effects can occur. This can include dizziness, increased memory loss, a drastic loss in appetite, trouble concentrating, blurred vision and other permanent body damages.
“It’s like you just sit there, and you can’t really do anything because your body doesn’t feel like it’s there,” said Valle.
While the use of Xanax does help with severe anxiety and sleeping problems, there’s a serious problem with teenagers abusing this prescription drug. Many who abuse the drug only see it as a party drug and don’t understand the consequences of it, causing a higher rate of use.
In fact, earlier this school year in October of 2015, a Western Michigan University freshman was found dead in her dorm room due to the mixture of alcohol and Xanax. For those with prescriptions, doctors prescribe taking as little as 0.75 milligrams of Xanax and never recommend more than 2 milligrams at a time. Any dosage higher than 2 mg can cause overdose depending on body size and mass. This doesn’t include how easy it is to overdose while mixing other drugs or alcohol with Xanax.
Throughout high schools, the selling and abuse of prescription drugs, specifically Xanax, has become a bigger and easily hidden problem. Xanax causes slower reaction times and allows an unprescribed user to have similar effects as if they were drunk. This can put students in dangerous situations, such as driving while under the influence of a drug that gives them the same response as consuming alcohol, which can have serious or deadly consequences.
The repercussions of drinking and driving are extreme due to the huge negative stigma and deadly consequences belonging to it. Xanax doesn’t have the same punishments. Since it’s only seen as an anti-anxiety medication that can be prescribed to patients, the effects of it are overlooked. The fact that driving while under the influence of Xanax is almost the same as driving while the under the influence of alcohol isn’t a highly known fact. Since this fact isn’t highly known, people are putting others and themselves in dangerous situations while behind the wheel just as they are when drunk. So, many don’t know that a prescribed drug can cause just as many deadly accidents as alcohol can.
The scientific and medical use of Xanax is to lower anxiety and help with sleep deprivation. Yet, teens have started using it more and more as a party drug despite the extreme consequences.
“They’re only like a Band-Aid, they just cover up the problem,” said Valle.