In the last year, there has been increased media coverage of Alprazolam (typically known by its trademark name Xanax) and highlighting what’s seen as an increase in the number of teens taking the drug. Most media stories have focused on individual cases or accounts from treatment centers; however, there is very little analysis of the research findings or the actual information.
Similar to all media coverage that highlights possible developments in the drug industry, there’s a chance that evidence for the change in trend doesn’t get well provided or even accessible, and raising an image of a specific drug could inadvertently draw more attention from drug users.
PHE has been examining the evidence available, and this blog will explain what we know now about the research being conducted and what needs to be planned for the future.
What exactly is Alprazolam?
Alprazolam is one of the medicines in the benzodiazepine class of drugs. The most common use of benzodiazepines is for treating insomnia and anxiety, but they can also be prescribed to manage seizures caused by epilepsy.
The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine prescription in the UK is diazepam, marketed under its trade name Valium. Contrary to this, Alprazolam is a faster-acting drug that is around ten times more powerful, which may create a feeling of sedation.
As with other benzodiazepines like Alprazolam, it could cause problems if taken without medical guidance. In the short term, it can result in excessive sedation, collapse, and overdose. Long-term use could lead to physical dependence and extreme withdrawal after stopping or reducing usage.
Additionally, combining any benzodiazepine in combination with alcohol and other substances increases the chance of harm. This is especially the case when benzodiazepines are combined with other sedatives.
Alprazolam is not accessible through the NHS. However, it is bought with a prescription from a private doctor within the UK. Illicit Alprazolam is usually sold in counterfeit buy xanax online tablets, is available in street-level drug stores, and can be purchased on illegal websites and social media platforms.
What are the current discussions concerning the drug alprazolam (Xanax)?
A rising number of personal stories have been reported by the press, mainly concerning teenagers who have experienced issues with Alprazolam (Xanax), along with anecdotal stories that they self-medicate to treat anxiety-related problems.
There has also been discussion regarding Alprazolam among political circles. In January of this year, one of the lawmakers, Bambos Charalambous, led the first discussion at the House of Commons to discuss using Alprazolam.
Sometimes, alcohol (Xanax) is depicted by the press as a problem among teenagers. There is no evidence currently for this; however, as we’ll explain, there is evidence of an increase in the prevalence. It is essential to realize that the patterns of use alter over time. Certain substances can be discovered rapidly, but their use swiftly diminishes. However, other drugs continue to be used and cause lasting harm. It’s too early to determine which category Alprazolam would fall into.
What is the current knowledge about the use of Alprazolam?
As the coverage in the media continues, PHE is being asked to make a statement, particularly on the current trends. Evidence suggests that the use of Alprazolam is on the rise, especially among youth or young adults. The data available do not provide an exact picture of the frequency of alprazolam usage since the data are for all benzodiazepines but do not cover Alprazolam specifically, which makes it harder to identify shifts in the use.
Hospital admissions data from England for 2017 show that there is an upsurge in the number of less than 20 admitted to hospitals for benzodiazepine poisoning. At the same time, inquiries from the National Poisons Information Service about the treatment for alprazolam poisoning have significantly increased. PHE has reviewed UK police seizures for the drugs submitted to forensic analysis. This revealed that the number of alprazolam seizures was much more than in previous years. It is rising from fewer than ten seizures in 2016 to more than 800 in 2017.
The majority of Xanax tablets that are sold on illicit marketplaces aren’t quality pharmaceuticals and are counterfeit. This is an excellent issue because counterfeit products could contain highly variable quantities of Alprazolam, making it difficult for drug users to determine what dosage to take. Fake Xanax has also been proven to prevent other substances or potentially harmful impurities.
We have received information from TICTAC, and an analysis of the drugs lab has confirmed that the samples made to resemble authentic Xanax tablets contained different substances, including etizolam, another benzodiazepine associated with numerous death cases in Scotland. TIC TAC has also confirmed fake tablets that contained Alprazolam differed significantly in strength. Certain pills were carrying greater than the usual dosage of a genuine buying xanax online tablet.
The uncertainty of the dosage could be dangerous for users of drugs who won’t be able to determine the amount of Alprazolam (or other substituted drugs) the tablets contain until they’ve taken it and have experienced adverse consequences.
What’s being done, and what needs to be done?
What is PHE doing? What Is PHE doing?
At PHE, We’ve looked at all national data and other information to understand the extent of alprazolam usage in England. We’re also speaking to experts and other experts to get an accurate picture.
Locally based PHE Centre teams are working closely with local authorities to provide the rules with information, guidance, and other customized support to assist them in assessing the needs of residents and then commissioning the services needed to meet the requirements. This might include specific assistance for people using Alprazolam concerning the issue’s magnitude within their region.
We are currently testing Report Illicit Drug Reactions (RIDR), an online reporting system that tracks the harmful effects caused by illicit substances, especially the new psychoactive substance (NPS). The system also identifies the adverse effects of misused drugs like Alprazolam.
If new types of drugs or ways of use are discovered and associated with health issues, the specific consequences they bring may not be recognized initially. For instance, bladder issues caused by ketamine weren’t initially identified until various treatment providers began to connect the dots and identify connections to each other. RIDE strives to speed the recognition of any harm to ensure that healthcare and treatment services can quickly provide the most effective interventions. PHE recommends that frontline personnel use RIDE to report any clinical issues they encounter in their communities. This aids in developing an understanding of current issues and their geographic distribution.
PHE organizes an annual clinical network meeting featuring experts on the latest drugs and trends in emerging drugs and trends. This gives us the chance to talk about data from RIDE, the latest NPS-related research, and other sources. We review our RIDE dashboard at the end of each meeting to record the latest issues and concerns. Alprazolam has been on the dashboard since September 2017.
We also provide updates to FRANK with the latest information, including the section on Alprazolam.
Which local governments and providers are required to do?
Some treatment providers respond to this growing usage pattern by learning more, teaching their staff and releasing information for children, promoting awareness about the problem locally and offering assistance, advice, and support for children with difficulties.
Drug Watch, an information network, has put together an informational piece on Alprazolam for professionals and people in the general public.
Local communities should strive to identify their patterns of drug use of drugs, Be aware of new trends, and ensure that staff who work in the areas of services that interact with vulnerable populations, like child referral services and social care, are aware and assist in creating appropriate strategies.
Any local communication to youth and professionals must be proportionate to increase awareness and understanding without promoting interest or seeking out drugs.