Pictured: seven alprazolam tablets, 2 mg each, as these would be described in a pharmacy. More common “street” term: seven bars of Xanax.
Many drugs can be used as medicines, and, of course, medicines ARE drugs. Many medicines, such as Xanax, are also psychoactive drugs, which simply means they affect the mind.
The last time I checked, Xanax was the #1 most-often prescribed drug in the US. I have a prescription; these are mine, and are legal for that reason, but only for me (in other words, you can’t have them). I have struggled with panic disorder and PTSD for nearly 30 years, and this drug has saved me from unknown misery.
However, this does NOT mean that Xanax is not a dangerous drug, for it is. If one has to take it, as I do, one should be careful, as I am. Also, if you doesn’t NEED it (as in, you don’t have severe anxiety problems for which a doctor prescribes these), “being careful” simply means NOT taking Xanax.
These make my anxiety symptoms go away, and usually make me sleepy as well. I get no euphoria from them, but, apparently, others do, or they would not be diverted to the black market, as they are. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanax for more information from Wikipedia, plus the other linked articles to be found there.
One example of a serious Xanax danger: a person I know, who shall remain nameless, took the quantity shown (that’s 14 mg, far more than any single person needs at once, ever), for purely recreational purposes, went driving, wrecked his car, and subsequently was charged, and convicted, of multiple felonies. Fortunately for him — and amazingly — no one died.
The most I have ever taken at once, by comparison, was 5 mg — right after my mother had a heart attack. When I told my psychiatrist about this, he told me that, even in such extreme cases, no more than 4 mg should ever be taken at once, even by people who are used to high doses (and doctors consider just ONE of these 2-mg pills to be a high dose). Now that I know that, I follow his advice. I pay the man BECAUSE he knows more about this stuff than I do, after all — to ignore his advice would be stupid.
There’s another, serious danger with Xanax, and other benzodiazepines as well (examples: Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, etc.), and this affects even people who use these drugs for legitimate reasons, and use them intelligently. It is NOT safe, if one has been taking these for long at all, to step taking them suddenly. These are very addictive drugs, on a physical level, and one possible withdrawal symptom for those who do quit “cold turkey” is life-threatening seizures. This should be considered before taking Xanax, discussed with the prescribing doctor, and advice should be requested (from your doctor) on how to safely “taper down” (by very gradual dose-reductions) slowly, to minimize risk, if it is ever time to stop taking these. Most patients do NOT need Xanax long-term, and those few who do need it for long-term use, such as myself, have an even-more serious need to be careful.
Like many drugs, Xanax has two “faces.” It saves people from the horror of panic disorder and other mental illnesses. It also destroys lives, when people misuse it, deliberately or accidentally. The key is to understand the drug, know its risks, take it only if needed (and as needed), follow a competent doctor’s directions on the subject, ask your doctor and/or pharmacist any questions you may have, and do your own research as well.
One other thing: Xanax (alprazolam) and Klonopin (clonazepam) should not be taken together, not should either be mixed with alcohol. I know another person who took a lot, of both drugs, together, with a lot of alcohol, daily, for a long time. He could easily have overdosed, and died … but something even worse happened to him. In an odd mental state (which he cannot remember to this day), under the influence of this three-drug mixture, he drove across multiple state lines (somehow), and then proceeded to use an unloaded gun (no one knew it was unloaded) to commit armed robberies at several small businesses, taking many hostages in the process. No one was injured, nor killed, but he’s still now serving life in prison, without possibility of parole (largely because of the hostages — “false imprisonment” is a serious felony), and the incompetent, unethical doctor who prescribed these medications to him (knowing full well that he drank heavily) quickly fled to another state. I didn’t even know where he was, until he’d been behind bars for nearly a decade.
When I take Xanax, I do it because I need to, I take only what I need, and I consider all of these things when doing so. I will not end up like the two people I have described in this post. I have no choice but to use this drug, for I cannot function without it … but I am not going to let it use me.