One issue that must be addressed on our campus is the concurrent use of Xanax and alcohol, which has become prevalent in the Greek community and the student body as a whole. Xanax, which is sometimes referred to as “bars” or “sauce,” is often combined with alcohol to quickly increase one’s level of intoxication. Not only is it illegal to take prescriptions that are not prescribed to oneself, but it is also extremely dangerous. Students are sometimes unaware of the effects of alcohol and Xanax on their bodies. By increasing awareness and understanding of this type of drug abuse, we can change the way our Greek community and campus views partying with prescription drugs.
Xanax (alprazolam) is a drug prescribed for Generalized Anxiety Disorder or panic disorders. When used correctly, it is effective in reducing anxiety and its related symptoms. This drug causes depression of the central nervous system, which controls involuntary functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure (when was the last time you had to tell your body to breathe or your heart to beat?). Xanax causes a slowing of CNS function, the same effects that result from consuming alcohol. When taken concurrently, both Xanax and alcohol depress the CNS, leading to combined effects and toxicity. The danger lies in the fact that the combination of these two drugs can depress one’s airway, breathing, and circulation to the point of death. Even when it is not fatal, the combination can result in serious long-term health problems, such as liver damage. Taking Xanax with alcohol also causes a decrease in cognitive function, leading to severely impaired judgment.
So, why do people want to do it? I asked some friends to explain why they believe that they themselves, their fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, or others who are not affiliated with the Greek system choose to use Xanax when they go out to the bars or to parties.
“It’s fun. You’re just completely out of it.”
“I think people think it’s cheaper because they don’t have to drink as much to get drunk.”
“People like it because it takes away all anxiety in social situations.”
“I just don’t worry about anything when I do Xanax and drink.”
But is it worth it? These same students stated that, in their opinion, the answer is “no.” After experimenting with Xanax and alcohol, they have come to the conclusion that the risks and negative effects far outweigh any perceived benefits. They have seen the adverse effects in their own lives as well as the lives of their friends. Some know friends who have dropped out of school or have been removed from their normal routine and future plans to spend time at a rehabilitation facility because they developed an addiction to Xanax as a result of using it recreationally. Others shared that full days are missing from their memories because they chose to combine these two depressive drugs. Some know people who have died because of Xanax and alcohol abuse. When asked if they believed using Xanax saved them money on drinks, they stated that, although it takes fewer drinks to feel the effects of the alcohol when on Xanax, since cognitive function is impaired, they spent large amounts of money at the bars without realizing what they were doing. Most students interviewed agreed that Xanax and alcohol is a bad combination.
Many students are admitted to the hospital on our campus and campuses across the country because of alcohol and drug abuse. Those who use Xanax and alcohol together may not be fully aware of their actions, therefore this choice can lead to other harmful decisions for both the affected individual as well as others on campus. We have the ability to change this problem on our campus through educating our peers and not condoning or supporting this dangerous behavior. Drinking while on Xanax could cost you or someone you love their life. Is it worth it?
If you or someone you know needs help coping with alcohol or drug abuse, you can contact the Student Health Center (http://shc.ua.edu/) or UA Counseling Center (http://counseling.ua.edu/).
By: Caroline Slay, Junior, Nursing Major
Skyscape. (2015). Skyscape Medical Resources (Version 2.4.5) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com