Imagine a drug so powerful it can make you calm down from your most pressing panic attack. What’s more, it can also get you high, or enhance the high you already have. Not only that, you can get it from your doctor and pick it up at your local pharmacy. Alprazolam, otherwise known as Xanax, is a type of benzodiazepine prescribed to many people throughout the world. Released in 1981, it is meant to deal with panic attacks and anxiety disorders, calming the patient through releasing itself as a sedative and muscle relaxant. However, the addictive nature of this drug has led to a rash of prescription drug abuse - this and many other drugs have made patients all over the country dependent on them, leading to substantial problems with abuse. Other drugs of this ilk include barbiturates, opioids, morphine derivatives, amphetamines, sleep medications and more - all of these legally available drugs have actually resulted in an epidemic that is inadequately addressed in current drug control legislation. With this problem in mind, it is absolutely essential that prescription drug regulations be tightened and reformed in order to lower these instances of abuse.
Abuse of Xanax, barbiturates and other prescription drugs is rampant in America, with a great number of people becoming dependent upon it and abusing it in conjunction with other drugs. Statistics show that twice as many Americans abused sedatives in 1998 than they did a decade prior (Gupta et al., 2002). It is estimated that 20% of United States citizens have used prescription drugs for reasons other than medical treatment; these drugs are administered either through normal dosing, snorting or injection. The effects of these drugs vary depending on which is being abused - stimulants such as amphetamines provide increased energy and mental alertness, but also increases the risk of heart attack, seizure and stroke; meanwhile, opioids like codeine and methadone have incredibly high risks of death due to overdose or mixing with alcohol or other depressants. Due to the ease by which one can become addicted to recreational prescription drug use, steps must be taken to radically confront the prescription drug abuse problem in this country. People of all age ranges, from teenagers to the elderly, have an equal likelihood of abusing Xanax and other prescription drugs, and it is most often associated with abuse of other drugs (heroin, alcohol, etc.) (Brown University, 2005).
In order to address these issues, greater drug regulation needs to occur in order to limit the ease by which individuals can get prescription drugs. A large portion of recreational drug use comes from its easy availability and its status as a “good” drug, distributed by doctors to those who need it. However, this is far from the truth, and action must be taken to help curb the problem of prescription drug abuse in America. More stringent regulations regarding its usage and prescription must be made in order to avoid unnecessary distribution of prescription drugs and amphetamines to patients who will only use it for recreational purposes. Greater awareness of the effects of prescription drug usage has to be fostered, as many people are under the impression that prescription drugs are somehow “more acceptable” than those drugs that have been made completely illegal by the United States. Organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must enact aggressive reform to heighten requirements for acquiring Xanax prescriptions, in order to reduce the number of cases of addiction and abuse. Currently the Obama Administrations National Drug Control Strategy is the primary means by which to curb prescription drug abuse through education, monitoring, proper medication disposal and enforcement; however, more can be done to address these rampant and pervasive issues. Greater advocacy and funding for prescription drug abuse treatment programs must be provided, in order to allow those who are suffering from addiction to get the help they need.
Brown University. (2005). Alprazolam (generic)/XANAX,XANAX XR (BRAND). Brown University Geriatric Psychopharmacology Update 9.9: 9-10.
Gupta, S., and Lynch, J. (2002). What Did She Want with Xanax?. Time 159.6: 67.
Scelfo, J., and Contreras, J. (2002). A 'Very Serious Problem'. Newsweek 139.6: 8.