After US, young adults in UK are now getting addicted to anti-anxiety medication

Anti-anxiety medication Reuters

In a new study, medical researchers expressed their concern over using the sedative anti-anxiety medication alprazolam (Xanax), which is prescribed for psychiatric medication in the US, making inroads into the the non-medical use of it recently in the UK where the addicts are mostly young adults.

As per the study, the researchers mentioned that this anti-anxiety medication can make a person "high," which is probably the main reason behind the increased use of alprazolam or Xanax among the young generation.

This study is the result of a survey which included a total of 10,019 adults in the UK. The team of researchers estimated that the national prevalence of lifetime non-medical use of alprazolam was 0.32 percent and 1.30 percent for diazepam (Valium), which is another anti-anxiety medication.

But when the team checked the prevalence of non-medical use in the past 90 days, they found a significant difference after dividing the data by age category for alprazolam, but not for diazepam. It showed that alprazolam for non-medical use is becoming more common among younger adults.

The study authors stated that most individuals are taking alprazolam or Xanax for non-medical reasons and they are doing taking it without a doctor's prescription.

In the research, which was published British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, authors stated that further research on this matter is urgently needed to explore the "motivations for and appeal of alprazolam for non-medical use among young adults."

In addition, they also said, "This will enable appropriate public health interventions to prevent short-term toxicity and long-term dependence among young adults who are regularly using alprazolam."

Another study showed that the number of adults prescribed drugs in the class that includes Xanax rose by 67 percent between 1996 and 2013 in the US. It also mentioned that in 2013, an estimated 22,767 people died of an overdose involving prescription drugs in US alone.

It should be mentioned that the American rapper Lil Wyte's 2003 debut album Doubt Me Now also had the song mentioning Xanax, as the lyrics were "Go on and slip me two Xanax bars / I'm ready to get full / Fifth of Crown to wash it down / I'm downtown snappin' rolls."

The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that young adults were the most likely to have ever used alprazolam for non-medical purposes and the rate of abuse for those aged 18-25 (10.3%) was nearly double that for people aged 26 or over (5.7%).

Facts about Alprazolam or Xanax:

  • It is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.
  • It was first synthesized in the late 1950s by Dr Leo Sternbach, a Polish chemist.
  • The drug was supposed to be safer, less addictive alternative to traditional tranquillizer drugs such as alcohol, barbiturates, and meprobamate.
  • It is often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders and insomnia.
  • This drug is extremely addictive when used long-term.