XANAX – what you need to know

Why do I need to know about Xanax?

According to the most recent national drug survey, there has been a significant increase in the use of Xanax by young people.

Alprazolam (Xanax) is controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, therefore possession without a prescription or supplying the drug to others is a criminal offence. A finding of guilt can jeopardise future career prospects of adults and young people.

What is Xanax?

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine with an intermediate onset of action (the time frame between taking the drug and it producing an effect), it is best known by the brand name Xanax. It was first introduced as a treatment for anxiety and panic disorder in the US in 1981 and became a popular recreational drug.

  • Xanax is not available on an NHS prescription. Therefore, the tablets young people are using are not misused prescription medications but instead being bought from on-line shops
  • Xanax can be found in various shapes and colours but more commonly in rectangular bars, white or off white in colour, bearing the name of Xanax. Young people are using the street name ‘bricks’.
  • There are a number of counterfeit Xanax bars in circulation, this gives added concern for safety of the user. These counterfeit tablets could contain other very powerful drugs which could lead to added complications and overdose.

Benzodiazepines can be used on their own but are also commonly used with alcohol and a range of other drugs; they have become popular amongst young people but carry a significant risk of overdose if used in conjunction with other drugs which suppress the Central Nervous System (e.g. Heroin)

What are the side effects of Xanax?

The after effects of Xanax are commonly reported by recreational users the following day as signs of hostility and aggression, vivid dreams, irritability and grogginess. There have been anecdotal disclosures of ‘black outs’ and time loss

Signs of overdose include confusion, impaired coordination, diminished reflexes and coma and overdose death has been reported.  Careful and expert medical help is needed to completely withdraw from use as the psychosocial reasons for use need to be addressed. 

In the event of any serious adverse reactions or illness in an individual who has taken Xanax, seek immediate medical attention from A & E or call an ambulance.

What can I do?

If a user becomes unconscious, you place them in the recovery position to prevent chocking and then call for an ambulance.

If you are aware of anyone using an illicit drug, this includes medication which has not been prescribed for them, please encourage them to seek help.  They can get help from their GP or Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Service: https://www.turning-point.co.uk/. Turning Point have a dedicated youth service working with people up to their 25th birthday.

If you have information regarding the supply of an illicit drug of any description which includes the diversion of prescribed medication, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The above information is courtesy of Suffolk County Council.

As a foster carer you will need to be aware of the impact of drugs and alcohol on young people. The following organisations provide more information, help and support for families and young people.

YOUNGMINDS – Charity supporting young people’s mental health. Drugs & Alcohol Guide

WithYou – Drug, alcohol and mental health charity supporting 100,000 people a year – Young Person’s Services

FRANK – Talk To Frank – A service providing facts, support and advice on drugs and alcohol – Information about XANAX / BENZODIAZEPINES


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