Police in Wiltshire have issued a warning to parents following incidents in which around 20 young people in the Salisbury area have received medical treatment after taking the prescription drug Xanax. All of the incidents took place within the past week.
There is increasing concern that the drug – the brand name for the potent benzodiazepine alprazolam – is gaining popularity among young people, partly as a result of its perceived celebrity associations (DDN, April, page 6). All of the young people receiving medical treatment in Wiltshire were 15-16 years old, say the police.
Although Xanax is a prescription drug for anxiety disorders, it is increasingly widely available via the dark web. It can slow users’ reactions and cause lethargy and drowsiness, as well as cardiac and respiratory difficulties in some cases. It can also cause significant physical dependency and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, with young people unlikely to be fully aware of the risks.
‘We are concerned about these incidents in which young people are deliberately risking their health,’ said Inspector Pete Sparrow of Wiltshire Police. ‘The effects of taking any drugs which haven’t been specifically prescribed for you can have serious or even fatal consequences and we urge parents/guardians to talk to their children about the dangers. We are investigating where the supply to these young people has come from and ask that anyone with information comes forward.’
Wiltshire Council said that its young people’s drug and alcohol service was ‘already engaging’ with young people in the area to make them aware of the risks associated with the drug.
Read Kevin Flemen’s article on the risks and availability of Xanax, in our April issue.