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Do We Really Know The True Dangers Of Xanax?

Jo KwokYee Lee
Dangers of Xanax

We explore the true dangers of Xanax, a prescription anxiety drug which is also as easily accessed for recreational use.

The drug that recently triggered the death of rapper Lil Peep, Alprazolam, also known as its trademark name Xanax, is growing more popular in the UK. We look into what it really is, where people get hold of it and why the abuse should stop.

As much as the UK government denies recreational drug use in the country, it fails to restrain people from getting their hands on cannabis, cocaine, crack, ecstasy and heroin. With the recent increase in synthetic drug use such as Spice and prescribed painkillers to get high, Xanax is now their next target. First popularised less than half a year ago, Xanax has arguably become the biggest drugs in 2018. Its escalating popularity and abundant supply are drawing concerns across the country. The dangers of Xanax are just the same as any other drug that is abused or taken for recreation uses, but without proper education, many people are simply putting their young lives at risk.

Xanax is a brand name of the actual drug Alprazolam, a tranquiliser that is prescribed to calm and relieve tension in troubled patients suffering from anxiety disorders. But just like many drugs out there, there’s a risk of misusing it. For teenagers and young adults, they are enduring increased levels of stress from school, society and social media, and eventually develop a certain degree of depression. Some are now taking Xanax to ‘self-medicate’ without the traditional form of professional evaluation and prescription. Getting hold of medication of such kind has become an escape from their symptoms, yet side effects like addiction can develop rampantly.

Dangers of Xanax Necklace

Above: You can even buy Xanax inspired pedants from online marketplaces such as Etsy.

Besides, Xanax is achieving popularity through celebrity culture. The fact that celebrities have deliberately and blatantly brought up the drug in their music, especially in mainstream hip-hop, has more or less normalised the consumption of it. Young people might decide to follow their idols because they think it’s cool, even when they have far from sufficient knowledge about the harm of the drug. That could extend to youth culture, where young people could be lured into trying Xanax by their peers.

All concerns towards young people abusing Xanax comes down to one question – where do they get Xanax from? Many still assume youngsters are trading drugs in a dodgy, abandoned alleys in downtown London with middle-aged, sturdy, bald head gangster type dealers. But this is 2018, and drug trading has long migrated online. One way of buying Xanax is stepping into the Dark Web, which requires a special browser and some technical skills.

The second way is snatching it off social media. As we highlighted last year, teenagers are now selling drugs on instagram & snapchat with the social media drugs trend a new way to reach 1000’s of potential clients. The availability of Xanax on there has also opened a new gateway for drugs to penetrate into the lives of youngsters. What differs from the use of social media to the dark web is its accessibility. Given the easy access for the general public to the former, obviously the population it affects is greater than the latter.

dangers of Xanax instagram

Above: A typical Instagram post advertising Xanax product for sale.

Young people who admitted buying drugs on social media claimed that it was very convenient. All they have to do is identify accounts who run the business by looking for certain emojis, then they can begin the deal. Standing at a price of £5 a pill, buying Xanax is not a big burden for students and youngsters. A pretty simple process and cheap price together make Xanax a very desirable choice.

The government has urged the social media companies to pick up the case and act promptly to remove any content and users that violate their terms and regulations. Both Instagram and Facebook have already begun taking actions against these illicit drug activities, however, there is yet to be a tactic to combat them once and for all.

It has also been discovered that some young people are reselling Xanax in schools after they acquire it from social media, which poses a worrying threat to students’ safety in campuses across the country.

If Xanax is used correctly, it could effectively put depression under control with a closely monitored regulated dosage. However that’s not to say its legal use is 100% safe, but lets face it, we live in a society of pharmaceutical corporate giants that are so powerful (Pfizer for example are one of the main global manufacturers of the drug) they would probably prefer it if we all had some form of depression to buy their overpriced pills the legitimate way. What some people can’t seem to understand is that when drugs are bought through their ‘trusted’ doctor/pharmaceutical company supply chain, it is no different, in theory, than scoring off your local dealer. It doesn’t matter whether drugs are coming from some super state of the art laboratory in Paris or someones front room, its always profits and sales that are the main focus of these huge pharmaceutical corporations.

dangers of Xanax

Above: Pfizer, your trusted ‘legal’ suppliers of prescription Xanax.

However, without proper monitoring, doctors have said that the Xanax drug is one the most potentially addictive tranquilisers out there. Some young people have even taken advantage of the ‘zombie-like’ effect that it could deliver in parties without really understanding the true dangers of Xanax. Users can appear drunk and dopey immediately, and the next day aggressive, violent and emotionally unstable. When young people are only five clicks away from getting hold of the drug on social media, there is a serious risk of developing addictions and worse, overdoses. There are already cases around the country where young people require medical treatment after using Xanax for recreational use.

The Police have even discerned the availability of counterfeit Xanax recently. Manufactured in an unknown environment, these are potentially more dangerous for users because the potency is undefined. Some forged pills have mixed boric acid, heavy metals and floor polish, which all are harmful to human’s health and life-threatening.

The pill might look innocent, but in retrospect, it has already taken lives of people who enjoyed international fame. A$AP Yams from American hip-hop collective A$AP Mobb, was reportedly died of overdosing on drug-cocktail “Lean”, which mixes Xanax with soda. More recently, US rapper Lil Peep is testified to have his death triggered by Xanax overdose as well. Some have commented that rap artists were beginning to find their muse in mortality.

dangers of Xanax lil peep

Above: American rapper, Lil Peep, died from a suspected Yanax overdose in November 2017.

On a more positive outlook, hip-hop musician Chance the Rapper has set a contrasting example of how celebrities could make a difference in suppressing Xanax misuse with their music. In his track “Finish Line/Drown”, Chance rapped “Last year got addicted to Xans. Started forgetting my name and started missing my chance.” Spreading anti-drug abuse messages could be the steps to take in effort of combating the crisis. Chance later got rid of the addiction.

The misuse and dangers of Xanax, if neglected, could become the introduction to further more serious, more harmful drug abuses. Therefore, communities are now impelling the government to kick in and implement solid policies to deal with the situation. There could be many approaches – working on handling the dealers, raising public awareness, better education to youngsters as well as parents. Abusing Xanax is a serious problem that demands a viable solution now, before anyone else gets hurt. The really worrying thing is however, why do those continue to abuse drugs regardless of their affects, origins or supply chain. Or is it just a case as long as their are the pressures of modern day society people will continue to get high whether its out of choice or not?

Jo KwokYee Lee
Jo KwokYee Lee

Jo is a Hong Kong-native and a graduate in MA International Journalism at Cardiff University. She is a big sneakerhead who always keeps an eye on new trainer drops. Previously interned at other streetwear magazines, she is excited to talk about modern street fashion, music and youth culture on RC. Jo's favourite brands at the moment are Vans, Stüssy, Nike and Anti Social Social Club.

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