Science and Health

Xanax-Related ER Visits Double In 7-Year Study

ER visits related to Xanax misuse doubled from 2005 to 2011, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Xanax-Related ER Visits Double In 7-Year Study
Wikimedia Commons / Editor182
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​A new study shows the number of emergency room visits related to the abuse of a particular sedative have more than doubled during a seven-year period. 

"It's called ​alprazolam, or as most people know it, Xanax. ... Basically what it's talking about is how many people misuse anti-anxiety medication and how that lands them in the hospital." (Via WOWT)

The study was released Thursday by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health ​Sevices Administration. (Via KOIN)

The report compares numbers from 2005 and 2011. In 2005, more than 57,000 people went to the ER after abusing the drug. That number climbed to more than 123,000 in 2011. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Editor182)

A press release issued by the administration explains the nonmedical use of Xanax constitutes as misuse and can lead to deadly effects, especially if combined with alcohol or pain relievers. 

"In 81 percent of those cases, it was mixed with another drug or alcohol. Doctors warn the sedating effect of those combinations can be deadly. Worst-case scenario, a person could stop breathing." (Via WAAY)

HealthDay talked to an addiction psychiatrist who didn't seem surprised by the findings, saying, "In 2010, Xanax alone accounted for more than 10 percent of all nonmedical use of prescription medications in the United States, [and] this illicit use more than doubled in five years." 

The study's administrator says, "This report highlights the need to educate people about the dangers of misusing or sharing prescription medications and the importance of properly disposing of unused medication." (Via U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health ​Sevices Administration

In 2011 Xanax was the most-prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S., and by 2012 it dropped to the 13th most-prescribed. Doctors say when the medication is used as prescribed, it is safe and effective.