Xanax

Know the facts about Xanax and connect with help and support to keep your child safe.

What are some slang terms?
Xannies, Bars, Z-Bars, Zanbars, Xanbars, Handlebars, Planks, Bricks, Benzos

What is it?
Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication that acts as a central nervous system depressant. Benzodiazepines produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and prevent seizures. Benzodiazepines are also called tranquilizers.

What does it look like?
Xanax is sold as pills, tablets and liquid.

How is it used?
Xanax is prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety associated with depression, and panic disorder. When misused, the drug is swallowed or injected.

What do young people hear about it?
Prescription tranquilizers such as Xanax can cause euphoria.

What are the risks?
Xanax and other prescription tranquilizers can slow normal brain function, which may result in slurred speech, shallow breathing, sluggishness, fatigue, disorientation and lack of coordination or dilated pupils. Higher doses cause impaired memory, judgment and coordination; irritability; paranoia; and thoughts of suicide. Some people can become agitated or aggressive. Using prescription tranquilizers with other substances — particularly alcohol — can slow breathing, or slow both the heart and respiration, and possibly lead to death.

Continued use can lead to physical dependence and — when use is reduced or stopped abruptly — withdrawal symptoms may occur. Because all prescription tranquilizers work by slowing the brain’s activity, when a person stops taking them, there can be a rebound effect, possibly leading to seizures and other harmful consequences. Tolerance to the drug’s effects can also occur, meaning that larger doses are needed to achieve similar effects as those experienced initially. This may lead users to take higher doses and risk the occurrence of an overdose. Prescription tranquilizers can become addictive, meaning a person continues to take these drugs despite their harmful consequences.

Sleep medications are also sometimes used as date rape drugs.

What are signs of use?

  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sluggishness
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Impaired memory, judgement and coordination
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Thoughts of suicide

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps

Spotting Drug Use

A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.

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