Move over, Mary Jane. Make way, Adam. To avoid impurities and counterfeits in the street drug realm, college students everywhere are turning to prescription drugs to get a buzz. Xanax, which is a benzodiazepine intended to treat anxiety and panic disorders, has become incredibly popular among the college-aged, who buy off of classmates and friends who actually have prescriptions. Why is Xanax use so common, though? Here is the truth about Xanax.
1. Why do people take it?
Xanax, also known as “bars” or “zanies,” is sometimes used as a party drug, especially when paired with alcohol. It targets your nervous system in ways that make you feel drunk, with very little booze. On the other hand, Xanax is also used to relax its user. For
instance, many college students tend to use Xanax after using Ecstasy, which causes its users to feel extremely anxious. Xanax calms the body by targeting the central nervous system and increasing the amount of Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA), a chemical that occurs in the body naturally.
2. Is it addictive?
Once you get hooked, it’s incredibly hard (and dangerous) to stop. Xanax is highly addictive, whether or not you’re using it for its intended purpose. In fact, it is intended for short term treatment of two to four weeks. Because you can easily become dependent on it, withdrawal symptoms are severe. If you go from popping a tablet everyday to none at all, you are putting yourself at risk for seizures and intense cramps. If you want to stop taking Xanax, you have to wean yourself off of it, slowly decreasing your dosage and frequency of ingestion.
3. What are the side effects?
Because many Xanax users combine the medication with alcohol or stimulants, amnesia is a common side effect. Other physical side effects include headaches, nausea, and in severe cases, heart attack. Some psychological side effects may occur as well. Those who mix Xanax with other drugs and alcohol may also experience paranoia, confusion and hallucinations.
4. Who uses it?
Xanax use is more common among upper classmen. The average age for prescription drug use, for purposes not prescribed by a doctor, is 21. The main cause for use is to relieve academic stress, so it’s probably no surprise that use becomes even more common during finals week. Many stressed out college students turn to Xanax to relax them, but it also makes them drowsy, which can be a major setback while cramming for exams and writing final papers.
5. Can you overdose?
The signs of overdose are like side effects on steroids. Xanax causes drowsiness in many of its users, but extreme drowsiness (difficulty waking up and staying awake) is a sign of overdose. Another sign is confusion, or in an extreme case: not knowing where you are, what you’re doing, and with whom you are. These signs can escalate to a slow heartbeat and unconsciousness.
Feature image source: shadowproof.com and freebikevalet.com
Alexandra Smith is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, hanging out with family friends, and roaming the world with her camera in hand.