Xanax use on the rise among San Diego teenagers

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego-based Institute for Public Strategies Tuesday warned parents that although prescription drug use among adolescents is on the decline overall, Xanax use among teenagers is rising.

Xanax is a sedative commonly prescribed to treat anxiety or insomnia and belongs, along with Valium and Klonopin, to a classification of drugs known as benzodiazepines. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Xanax is the tranquilizer of choice for 12th-graders.

A recent study by the San Diego Association of Governments found that tranquilizers are the most abused prescription drugs among inmates in San Diego County’s juvenile hall system.

According to IPS, teens mistakenly think “benzos” are a safer way to manage anxiety and academic and social stress because doctors prescribe them, though the drugs are just as dangerous as prescription opioids and heroin.

The nonprofit, which focuses on public health and safety issues, also said well-known pop culture figures may play a role in giving teens the wrong impression of Xanax. In a YouTube post on the day of his overdose death last November after ingesting Xanax laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl, Lil Peep said he had just popped six “Xan,” and Lil Pump marked his milestone of reaching 1 million Instagram followers by celebrating with a Xanax-bar shaped cake, according to IPS, which also noted that Lil Xan’s stage name is derived from the drug.

A Monitoring the Future report found that teenagers mostly get hold of Xanax from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinet or from a friend. But according to IPS, a “small but growing marketplace for youth is the dark web,” which can be accessed using peer-to-peer web browsers like Tor and I2P, while”anecdotal evidence on online forums suggests that it is easy for adults — particularly drug dealers — to purchase Xanax online.”

IPS warned that Xanax pills not dispensed by a pharmacy could be counterfeit or laced with other illicit drugs while stressing that Xanax — prescribed or not — is never recommended for those under the age of 18.

IPS suggests that parents encourage dialogue with their children about topics like mental health and drug use and monitor their Internet usage. Parents can also reach out to the county’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force for drug addiction and treatment resources.

Categories: Health, Local San Diego News