Alprazolam and Prescription Drug Abuse

20 February 2018
Alprazolam and Prescription Drug Abuse

Alprazolam, also known as the trade name Xanax, is a widely prescribed anxiety drug in the US. Alprazolam is a minor tranquilliser which can cause sedation, short term memory loss and depress the nervous system, slowing down the brain and body. Recommended for short term use, the drug can be highly addictive and only be obtained on private prescription in the UK.

People have been known to crush or melt the dangerous tranquilliser that comes in a tablet form, to inject the substance. Extremely dangerous and fatal, the chalk in the tablets can cause collapsed veins and lead to an abscess and infection.

A recent article by BBC News uncovered that Alprazolam is being purchased online and abused by children as young as 13. The news comes after reports of social media sites being used to buy dangerous substances and locate drug dealers. In 2017, up to 20 teenagers from Wiltshire needed treatment after using Alprazolam. This year in Sussex alone, several young people have been admitted to hospital after taking the prescription drug. 

A spokesperson from Pfizer, a Xanax manufacturer, expressed concerns over the alarming rise of counterfeit Xanax drugs and the growing availability on the dark web. Discussing the issue, they mentioned that ingredients such as boric acid, heavy metals and floor polish have been found in counterfeit Xanax medications. Defined as “part of our youth culture” Nick Hickmott from Addaction states, it is currently debatable how many people are currently using Alprazolam. London’s MP Bambos Charalambous has called for awareness campaigns and further research to be conducted in order to support services.

Alprazolam is not the only widely abused prescription drug, as criminal gangs were reported smuggling tens of millions of prescription drugs out of the UK’s protected supply chain. Northern Ireland have also expressed concerns over the rise of pregabalin, with BBC spotlight revealing a 46% rise from a data base of 20 million prescription records written by GPs across the country in the past four years. However, the biggest killer in Northern Ireland is tramadol, a prescription painkiller taken by thousands daily.

Randox Toxicology offer the most comprehensive drugs of abuse test menu across multiple forensic matrices. Our level of expertise in toxicology has enabled us to provide the DoA ULTRA panel, which can screen for a wide range of prescription drugs of abuse, including Alprazolam and Tramadol. Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, Randox Toxicology provide a complete immunoassay profile in the initial screening phase. 

For more information about our DoA ULTRA panel and how Randox Toxicology are fighting drugs of abuse, email us at

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