The Dark Side of Xanax

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The Dark Side of Xanax

Tripp Lavely and Kylie Bolter

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“I’ve lost so much: lost money, family, friends. I’ve lost everything in my life,” said former Xanax addict and Wayzata High School Senior Tony Ferraro.
Abuse of the anxiety pill at WHS has skyrocketed since last Summer; it is primarily being used as a party drug, Ferraro said.
According to Ferraro, when mixed with alcohol Xanax severely affects memory and decision making processes.
“When you’re taking a drug that depresses your central nervous system and then add another one on top of it like alcohol, you’re really lowering your body’s ability to function,” said WHS Chemical Health Coordinator Judy Hanson. “It acts specifically on the central nervous system.”
“It’s like you won’t remember anything,” said Ferraro. “Like that night will just be a whole blur to you. You’ll remember a couple things, spotty things, but you won’t remember what happened.”
According to Ferraro he often got into fights or purchased things while high on Xanax, without being conscious of his actions.

“There were incidents when something big would happen, and I would just wake up and wouldn’t have any recollection of it,” said Ferraro.
According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Xanax is typically prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication. The active ingredient in the drug is Alprazolam.
Doctors write nearly 50 million Xanax prescriptions per year which makes it the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug in the country, according to Psychiatric Times.
“We’re dealing with a lot of anxiety today with youth and adults,” said Hanson. “So it’s really easy to just write out a prescription for Xanax.”
According to Hanson, Xanax is primarily used by people who are prone to panic attacks.
“If they feel [a panic attack] coming on and they can’t control it, they take [Xanax] to temporarily take that panic away,” said Hanson.
According to Hanson, Xanax is taken as needed and often not all of the prescribed pills are used. This leaves a window for the pills to be sold.
“It’s so easy to get,” said Hanson. “And it’s such a money maker so accessibility and availability will always be the reason it’s abused.”
“I think kids are just trying to take it because they see other people doing it and they’re just like: ‘well okay they sound like they’re having fun on that,’” said Ferraro.
According to Ferraro, when Xanax is used as a party drug, the hangovers are terrible, and the user’s body feels incredibly weak.
“The tolerance for Xanax builds up fast,” said Ferraro. “Before I went to treatment I was taking six to eight pills on any given day.”
According to Ferraro, users typically start by taking one “bar” or pill, but after two to three more times, the dose of Alprazolam doesn’t affect the body as much, and the user has to take more bars to get the same high.
“It’s such a fast acting drug so it’s in and out of the system pretty quick,” said Hanson. “It doesn’t have to build up to a certain level in your bloodstream in order to be effective.”
According to Hanson this is why the drug is so addictive.

“If you’re doing it every day, and multiple times a day, it’s just something you need to get out of,” said Ferraro.
“I went to treatment for Xanax and my withdrawal from that was just terrible. I was hospitalized for a while,” said Ferraro.
“If you were addicted your whole body just gets torn apart. I was hospitalized more than once for the withdrawal,” said Ferraro.
“There was a two to three day stay and there wasn’t really much they could do, they were just watching me,” said Ferraro.
According to Ferraro he struggled with treatment because he was unwilling to admit that he had a problem.
The number of students that take Xanax unprescribed during school hours is underestimated by faculty, Ferraro said.
“I know people who come to school completely messed up,” said Ferraro. “People who do it just so they don’t have to remember stuff.”
According to the Trojan Tribune survey, 14.3% of WHS seniors have been offered prescription drugs in school during the last thirty days. 11.3% have taken a drug not prescribed to them in the last year.
“It’s just not something that should be happening at school,” said Ferraro.
Ferraro’s advice for those who abuse Xanax or are thinking about abusing Xanax: “Don’t do it. You may think it’s cool from the start, but it just tears your life away.”

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