In a development that must be worrying for both parents and the government in the UK, BBC has claimed in a report that the incidence of substance abuse among adolescents and children is growing at an alarming rate.
Of particular significance is the use of Xanax. Benzodiazepine is the chemical that is used in the synthesizing of this drug. Xanax, as such, is just a brand name and the actual drug is more known by the generic name of ‘alprazolam’.
The drug can be ordered online and that is one of the basic reasons for this dangerous trend of children falling prey to the drug’s misuse.
What should be understood is that the drug alprazolam is a legitimate one and is commonly prescribed. You can buy Xanax or any of the other drugs available in the market. The symptoms for which this drug is prescribed are typically panic attacks or excess anxiety. When the drug is consumed in the right dosage, under proper medical supervision, the drug produces the desired impact, scaling down the brain’s activity, thereby limiting the levels of anxiety or panic.
The trouble with the kind of report filed by BBC News is that it shows a certain pattern; one is that the drug is being ordered online by these children or their friends. The difficulty is here that there is no control over the composition or strength of the drugs paddled online. And there is no direct medical supervision.
The drug is consumed in private parties held at the residences of these young kids and an overdose can lead to serious complications and calling an ambulance becomes necessary.
Interestingly, the BBC reporter has used information collected from the ambulance service personnel to establish this trend of more children falling prey to this drug abuse. Their report says there has been a 6-fold jump in cases being reported from the various hospitals in the UK and this includes only the cases reported for treatment of children having consumed Xanax.
The overall figure for cases of children reaching hospitals after having had an overdose of tranquilizers is reported to have reached 300. It was just around half this figure a year earlier.
Quoting the figures given out by the ambulance service personnel, the report by BBC News says there were as many as 15,500 trips made by the ambulances where children were taken to hospitals following complications due to drug abuse. They have gone on to say close to 90% of these children were found to have consumed cannabis.
The dreadful aspect of this drug abuse among the children is the kind of side effects these drugs can have. One Psychiatrist has warned that the person abusing the drugs made with benzodiazepine can end up having a complete blackout. Some experience speaking difficulties with words slurring. That’s the basic property of the drug and only the person consuming them has to take all the precautions. Parents too have a responsibility to check this avoidable catastrophe.
Experts also point out that the drug is being mixed with alcohol and consumed. That, according to them, could be quite dangerous.
Those associated with Public Health England (PHE), particularly cases relating to alcohol and drugs, confirm that they see this increasing trend among the younger sections, below 18 years of age, getting admitted in hospitals across the country, following benzodiazepine consumption in some form or another.
However, they concede the data available with them is not adequate to give out conclusive statements. But they concur with the opinion of the Psychiatrist that the key issues identified are:
Apart from benzodiazepine, ecstasy is seen as the other drug that is found to be frequently consumed by children based on the medical cases reported in the hospitals from around the country.
A call for action has to include all stake holders and the level of information among the children has to be enhanced.