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Adolescent Xanax Abuse Skyrocketing in the US

More teenagers are being admitted to hospitals for Xanax and other benzodiazepine withdrawals than ever before. The general public doesn’t often hear these statistics, but addiction treatment centers and hospitals see the trends first hand.  Adolescent Xanax abuse often begins when the teens experiment with their parents’ prescription drugs to get high.  

The easy availability of these drugs is not surprising because the number of adults who were prescribed Xanax rose by more than 67 percent between 1996 and 2016.  Studies show that benzodiazepines were involved in about 31% of the 22,767 fatal overdoses in 2017. How many of that number were teenagers? The CDC reports that 772 teens aged 15 to 19 died from a drug overdose in 2017, and benzos were one of the most commonly abused drugs involved in those deaths.

Are Teens Using Benzos to Self-Medicate?

Today’s teens are faced with a variety of stress-inducing challenges daily.  Some of the problems they struggle with include:

  • Pressure to perform well academically\
  • Peer pressure to party
  • Wanting to fit in with the crowd
  • Relationship problems
  • Family discord, divorce
  • Significant life changes such as moving, starting a new school, the death of a loved one
  • Making decisions about college, etc.
  • Financial concerns
  • Loneliness, depression, feeling misunderstood
  • Pressure to excel in sports, or other school-related activities

Many of these teens lay awake at night from the stress.  They also tend to overeat and consume unhealthy foods, or they skip meals altogether.  Surveys show that these teens report feeling irritable, angry, nervous, and anxious. Adolescent Xanax abuse also causes decreased cognitive ability and forgetfulness.

Teens mostly want to feel better, so they try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.  They often use benzos such as Valium or Xanax because they consider these drugs to be safer than street drugs. Many of these kids have parents who use benzodiazepines, and they are readily available in the home.

Dangers of Adolescent Xanax Abuse

Today’s party culture tends to glorify drinking and doing drugs.  Teens are always seeing people who are high acting in bizarre ways in movies, on social media, and at clubs.  Everyone seems to be having such a good time, so why not join them. But, the dangers are always apparent right away.  For example, continued use of benzos will result in addiction. Also, when the drug is combined with alcohol or pot, the effects can be unpredictable and often deadly.  

Aside from blacking out, or driving under the influence of benzos, other consequences of adolescent Xanax abuse include:

  • Aggression, violence, sexual assault
  • Mood swings, unexpected outbursts
  • Headaches, blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Memory loss

Another consequence of benzo abuse by teens has to do with the presence of co-occurring disorders.  What this means is that many teens have underlying mental or emotional conditions such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, and low-self esteem in addition to their addiction.  

Teens think the drugs are making them feel normal, but in reality, they are making the issues worse.  For instance, some of the withdrawal symptoms of benzo abuse include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability, nervousness
  • Seizures

Some teens have asked their doctor to prescribe Xanax for them, so they don’t have to get them illegally.  Sadly, they think the drug is good for them. The problem with benzos is that they stop working over time, so the user needs more and more to get the same effects.  Unfortunately, there are no drugs that alleviate the withdrawals symptoms of giving up benzos. Also, quitting the pills too quickly can be dangerous or even fatal. The best option is to enter the teen into a professional addiction treatment facility where specialists can monitor the withdrawals.

Find Out More at A Forever Recovery

At A Forever Recovery, we are dedicated to educating our youth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  Throughout the year, we sponsor or participate in many events that are spreading awareness and prevention messages to the young people of our country.  Our goal is to help them make the right choices and avoid drug or alcohol abuse for a lifetime. Contact us today if you would like to know more about adolescent Xanax abuse.

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