Medically Reviewed

Why Xanax Abuse is on the Rise Among Teens

2 min read · 4 sections

Why Xanax Abuse is on the Rise Among TeensXanax is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine medications and is routinely used to treat short-term anxiety and panic disorders.

For years, the main conversation surrounding the improper use of this prescription drug has centered around adults such as over-anxious parents, stressed-out business executives, and other individuals struggling through difficult aspects of their adult lives. But a growing epidemic which has professionals even more concerned is the increasing use of this medication in a younger population.

The prevalence of Xanax abuse in teens is rapidly on the rise, as this drug is frequently being used by high school aged adolescents to battle  stress and anxiety. Three key reasons have begun to stand out as underlying causes for this recent surge.

1. Increased Stress

Teenagers in today’s society are more stressed than ever before.1 The number of reported cases of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and other issues is going up year after year. And as these statistics continue to rise, the level of Xanax use in teens is climbing right along with it.

Offering a release of euphoria and relaxation that starts within 10 minutes or less, many individuals become dependent on Xanax as a means to calm down or even get to sleep at night. Addiction to these pills is often paired with opioids as an added means to remove the “pains” of stress.

2. Easy Access

While some teens are getting their own prescriptions to Xanax, many others need only to walk into their parents’ bathroom and take a look into the medicine cabinet. Millions of adult Americans use benzodiazepines, giving their children easy access to try it out for themselves, whether to combat their own stress or simply due to curiosity.

Doctors often recommend that parents keep these medications in a place inaccessible to their kids due to the rising misuse by teenagers. But unfortunately,  easy access to Xanax isn’t limited to homes. The internet is also opening doors for this generation to get their hands on Xanax in other ways.

3. Social Media Trends

Peer pressure has always plagued young teens and to this day continues to influence their life decisions. Social media has fostered widespread peer pressure at levels never seen before. Young people everywhere are experimenting with dangerous practices, such as the Tide Pod Challenge and the rapid ingestion of cinnamon, simply because they see these trends arise on various social media sites.

And while social media platforms like Facebook have provided a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, they have also presented new avenues for obtaining drugs. “Social drug dealing” has facilitated the increase in prescriptions like Xanax finding their way into the possession of teenagers.

Getting Help for Teens Abusing Xanax

Depending on the level of use, detoxing from Xanax can range from a few hours at home to a few nights of withdrawals in a rehabilitation facility. If it has been a long-term addiction, treatment usually involves slowly tapering off the  drugs as opposed to quitting cold turkey.

It is highly recommended to get assistance from medical professionals to monitor the Xanax detox process

Research Sources

  1. Bethune, S. (2014). Teen stress rivals that of adults. Monitor on Psychology, 4(45), 20

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