Six young people from Brighton and Hove were treated at the Royal Sussex last week after taking Xanax, the latest drug craze to become popular in the UK.
City health officials are increasingly concerned at the growing use of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam, known as Xanax after the one of the most common brand names.
Alprazolam is an anti-anxiety medicine in the benzodiazepine family (benzos) and is similar to diazepam (Valium) but it’s about 20 times stronger and can quickly make users feel very sleepy, clumsy and confused. If it’s mixed with alcohol there’s a real risk of overdose which can lead to death.
Benzodiazepines are also the most potentially addictive type of anti-anxiety medicine.
Police, young people’s substance misuse workers and public health professionals believe the drug is being bought over the internet and from local dealers. It isn’t available on the NHS, and can only be obtained on a private prescription in the UK.
Dr Peter Wilkinson, Consultant in Public Health at Brighton and Hove City Council said: “There is increasing concern about the use of Xanax. It can have a wide range of harmful effects and overdoses can be fatal particularly when taken with alcohol and other drugs.
“As Xanax isn’t available on prescription from the NHS people are getting it online, probably through the dark web, which means no one actually knows what it is they’re buying.”
“We’re asking parents to talk to their children, to make sure they understand the risks.”
In the event of any serious adverse reactions or overdose seek medical help. If someone becomes unconscious after taking Xanax they should be placed in the recovery position to prevent choking and an ambulance called.
Local children and young people’s alcohol and drug services are providing support to young people across the city. If you think someone needs help or support parents should contact ruok on 01273 296169 or RUOKDB@brighton-hove.gov.uk or discuss with your child’s doctor.