Xanax Bars are the street name for a pill form of Xanax or alprazolam. These long, tubular pills are sold in 2mg doses, versus the standard “pill” Xanax, which is typically 0.5mg, meaning individuals have to take fewer of them for a higher dose. While only legally available via prescription, millions of U.S. adults, or 2.1% of the U.S. population misuses benzodiazepines like Xanax, with recreational uses including sedation, as sleeping medication, and to relax.
Xanax is also highly addictive, with prescription users and recreational users quickly developing patterns of dependence, seeking, and eventually, substance use disorder. While Xanax, especially high-dose Xanax like Bars, are only prescribed for about 5 weeks for most modern patients, many people have had prescriptions for years. As a result, even individuals with legitimate prescriptions for benzodiazepines might doctor shop or buy Xanax bars on the street to maintain the effects of the drug, to prevent withdrawal symptoms, and to get high.
Understanding how and why people use and abuse drugs like Xanax may help you to make the right decisions in offering and getting help.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug, frequently prescribed for anxiety, panic disorders, sleep disorders, and tension. Benzodiazepines are primarily a sedative, which function by stimulating GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) receptors, sedating the central nervous system. Xanax is a prescription version of the drug alprazolam, which is a relatively short-acting benzodiazepine, which takes effect within an hour of taking a dose and has an average 6-hour duration of action.
The drug is most commonly prescribed to treat panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and as a short-term sleep aid. It may also be used in combination with other medications, especially for the treatment of nausea induced by chemotherapy.
Alprazolam was first approved for clinical use in 1971 and has remained among the most frequently prescribed medications since that date. And, while it’s been available to many patients for decades, new regulations by the FDA now limit most prescriptions to about 5 weeks. As a result, many people are chemically dependent on prescriptions and may resort to illegally buying or purchasing them if their Xanax use is reduced, monitored, or stopped altogether.
Why Do People Abuse Xanax Bars?
Xanax is a sedative, with calming effects that can result in a “stoned” level of sedation. Many people take it to relax, to reduce side effects and symptoms of other medication, to increase and enhance other drugs and alcohol, to “get high”, and because they are chemically or psychologically dependent. Xanax is heavily habit forming, meaning that individuals might quickly convince themselves they need the drug to prevent anxiety or panic attacks, to the point where they can talk themselves into a panic attack if they don’t have it. Withdrawing from Xanax can also produce significant physical symptoms including vomiting, seizures, dehydration, tremors, headaches, and cold and flu symptoms. It is not recommended to quit Xanax “cold turkey”, especially if you are currently taking full Xanax bars, or more than one at a time.
People also take Xanax for many legitimate reasons. It can be immensely helpful in briefly relaxing an individual and reducing symptoms to a point where they can get help for persons with PTSD, anxiety, and panic disorders.
Here, Xanax Bars are largely only preferred because they’re available in large doses. An individual who is addicted and needs a large dose can take fewer pills to get the same effect. In some cases, users may also crush Xanax bars and snort them to get a “better high”, with faster and more significant side effects. Most people who use Xanax bars are equally as willing to source Xanax tablets, which are typically dosed at 0.5 or 1mg, they will simply take more of them at once.