Children as young as 11 left needing medical treatment after taking Xanax as its use soars amid dealers using social media to sell dangerous drug
- Recreational use soaring in Britain following glamorisation in US rap music
- Xanax is not available on the NHS but can be obtained on private prescription
- There were 240 call-outs for Xanax abuse relating to youngsters aged 11 to 18
Children as young as 11 are being treated for abusing the anxiety drug Xanax, it was revealed last night.
Recreational use of the medication is soaring among young people in Britain following its glamorisation in American rap music.
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is not available on the NHS but can be obtained on private prescription.
However, the drug and associated fake versions are increasingly finding their way on to social media and the ‘dark web’.
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is not available on the NHS but can be obtained on private prescription
One ambulance trust last year attended 240 call-outs for Xanax abuse relating to children and teenagers aged between 11 and 18, analysis by the BBC found.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the North East Ambulance Service said two of the cases involved 11-year-olds. It also recorded incidents relating to Xanax abuse involving children of 11 in 2014 and 2016.
Leading drugs charity Addaction said it was aware of children of 13 ‘dealing’ the strong medication, which is in the benzodiazepine group of drugs, in schools.
It comes after the Daily Mail revealed this week that pharmacists have teamed up with organised crime gangs to divert drugs such as Xanax on to the black market. Within only seconds of meeting, one pharmacist sold 60 Xanax tablets to an undercover reporter for £150 without asking to see a prescription.
Drugs from the legitimate supply chain can be sold on to dealers, who in turn peddle the highly addictive substance to vulnerable young people over the internet or on the street.
Schools across the country have reported finding children affected by Xanax on their premises, with ambulances called out on some occasions. Users of the drug can appear drunk, with slurred speech and problems with memory.
Potentially fatal side effects can occur if users fall unconscious and their respiratory system shuts down. In some cases, headteachers have written to parents to warn them of the drug’s dangers.
As well as using Xanax before parties for the supposed relaxant effects, pupils are also using it to self-medicate ahead of exams or other stressful events.
Nick Lind, the deputy head of Redland Green School in Bristol, told the BBC that children can see Xanax as a ‘safe way of getting into drugs’.
Schools across the country have reported finding children affected by Xanax on their premises (stock image used)
But it is highly addictive and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms in users who take it regularly for anything longer than a few weeks, including psychosis, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Brighton University student Georgia Jackson, 21, took her life last December two days after using the drug. A coroner later warned of the ‘pernicious influence’ of Xanax.
Kerry Robinson, a paediatrician at Whittington Hospital, North London, said she had treated children under 16 who had used the drug. ‘The cases that I’ve seen, it’s not a recreational party drug,’ she told the BBC.
‘Young people have taken it during the school day, then stumbled into their next lesson and someone has picked up that things are not right.’
Neil Coles, from Addaction, said: ‘We’re seeing a lot of young people who don’t realise the dosage. They’re taking far too much, collapsing on school premises, and having to be taken to hospitals.’
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