Xanax Abuse Leads to TGA Rescheduling
Said to be more addictive than cocaine, Xanax is the anti-anxiety drug in the medicine cabinet of millions of Australian homes.
Xanax is the 21st-century equivalent of Valium and is regarded as the anti-anxiety drug of our generation.
In the space of a generation the supply of the drug has exploded by more than 1400%.
Last year, more than one million prescriptions for the drug were written in Australia.
It's commonly prescribed to combat anxiety, panic attacks, sometimes even depression.
But the growing abuse of this drug has led the peak body for drug regulation in Australia to more tightly restrict its availability through doctors' prescription.
The interim decision handed down last Thursday by the Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TDA) means the benzodiazapene, known as Xanax, will be rescheduled as a S8 controlled drug – substances with high potential for abuse and addiction.
The TDA has tried to reschedule this medication on two other occasions but have failed in their attempts.
If their decision is successful there will be restrictions placed on the prescription of Xanax, including quantity and repeats.
A Prescription for Problems
Within the last week Melbourne based doctor Dr Mark Schulberg has been struck off the medical register for inappropriately prescribing patients with 25,000 Xanax and 9000 Valium tablets.
It is this reckless prescribing that has made Xanax so assessable and easy to become addicted to.
President of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton, said there had been a significant increase in benzodiazepine prescription, despite the drugs not being recommended as a first-line treatment for anxiety.
“There are websites to teach people how to get the drugs through their doctors, because there is a high level of suspicion among doctors when patients ask for the drugs,” Dr Hambleton said.
Xanax was approved for use in Australia in 1981, initially for panic disorders.
This drug belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines.
A benzodiazepine is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. Anything that depresses the CNS will seem to relax a person.
Benzodiazepines differ from one another in potency and duration; those that enter your brain most quickly, like Valium and Xanax, can make you high, fast.
Unlike Valium, which can linger in the system and has a reputation for leaving its users feeling hung-over, the effects of Xanax wear off about four to six hours after it takes effect.
You take one and you feel better quickly, but then it wears off and your symptoms re-emerge and so you take another one, but it's the drug withdrawal causing the symptoms, not your anxiety.
The problem is, working that out is pretty hard when all you know is that this drug makes you feel so relaxed.
The recommended treatment for panic disorders often requires the use of high average daily doses of above 3mg, therefore the risk of dependence among people with panic disorder may be higher than that among those treated for less severe anxiety.
Xanax blackouts or ‘temporary cognitive impairment’ is also very common with regular Xanax users.
Users feel uninhibited and have no recollection of what they were doing when high doses are taken.
This has been associated with the increase in violent crimes, adultery and even shoplifting in the nude.
Other Xanax side effects include memory loss, sedation and coma.
Xanax on The Street
There is a roaring street trade for Xanax, known as “bricks”, with an estimated selling price of $5 for a 2 milligram tablet.
The Xanax street trade is even worse in the United States, a single Xanax tablet can sell for $100 – a bottle of generic Xanax can be worth up to $30,000 to the most desperate addict.
Xanax is also used by street drug users who love the fact that it eases the jagged comedown from other drugs such as “ice” and heroin.
The abuse and misuse of Xanax is not restricted to Hollywood celebrities like the late Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger, who both died as a result of their Xanax addiction.
Its about time that this medication is rescheduled to restrict its availability and put a stop to 'doctor shopping'.
Now the drug manufacturers and 'other interested parties' have 2 weeks to challenge the rescheduling before a final decision is made.
Lets hope that the TGA does not cave in to the pressure of these pharmaceutical companies and prevent future Xanax addictions.
We will let you know of the final decision in the coming weeks.
Anxiety disorders are complicated and often need a multi-treatment approach.
If you would like to know how you can treat anxiety without the dangerous and addictive medications, speak to one of Emed Qualified Practitioners today.