Understanding The ‘Benzo’ Crisis
In today’s world, prescription medications are becoming the gateway drugs of choice for high schoolers and teens. As several major news outlets are now pointing out, the younger addictions and experimentations now involve Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan; all members of the benzodiazepine (or “Benzo“) family.
These drugs are often more accessible than the illicit substances of years’ past. A generation ago, high schoolers would have to seek out contacts (or “dealers”) and purchase their drugs in the street. Now they are readily available in Mom and Dad’s medicine cabinet.
And many high schoolers believe the benzo drugs serve a practical purpose. Meds like Xanax and such are administered to relieve anxiety; feelings commonly exhibited by teens. In fact, many freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors are regularly prescribed these drugs themselves.
But, just like any drug, they can do serious damage when consumed in high dosages. In fact, it’s quite easy to overdose on benzos and the death rate from these drugs has been steadily increasing over the decades. According to the latest research, Xanax and the like saw a fatality spike of 830 percent since 1999.
One major concern is that the public at large isn’t aware of just how addictive (and deadly) these meds can be. Doctors too apparently give them out quite frequently; with a 67 spike in benzodiazepine prescriptions from 1996 to 2013.
“Most people taking psychiatric drugs these days do not get an adequate explanation about the nature of the medication,” addiction specialist Dr. George Dawson M.D. told Marie Claire. “And anyone who uses these medications long-term is going to experience tolerance and withdrawal.”
Others in the medical community believe benzos are thought of as a “quick fix” for anxiety issues. The truth of the matter is, phobias and mental struggles should be dealt with over a longer period, with therapy and counseling. Prescribing a simple pill to solve the problem is not the appropriate answer.
Also, many addictions of this type start out quite harmless. Teens may take it as prescribed, but soon develop an immunization to the drug; which feeds the need to consume it in larger and larger quantities.
“Benzos are generally safe when they are taken occasionally over a few weeks,” Angelo Valente, executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, added. “But the brain quickly accepts and adapts to the medicine and certainly that is something very alarming.”