Concerns have been raised about the growing number of children using the anti-anxiety drug Xanax to ‘self-medicate’ against mental health problems. Also known as Alprazolam in its generic form, the drug is around 20 times stronger than Valium and is usually prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the past year, with some experts saying it has made it into the top five drugs used by young people, alongside cannabis and alcohol. The fact that Xanax can be easily bought from street dealers, online pharmacies or the dark web for as little as £1 a pill is prompting calls from senior Labour MPs to investigate its escalating use.

Rated as a Class C drug in the UK, the tranquiliser can be lethal when mixed with alcohol or opiates. NHS Lothian has confirmed that Xanax was implicated in 17 deaths in the first 9 months of last year while a further three deaths were reported in Dumfries and Galloway. The drug is closely associated with the USA’s celebrity culture and was found to play a part in the accidental deaths of the actor Heath Ledger, the model Anna Nicole Smith and the rapper Lil Peep.

Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Taking it will make you feel relaxed, tired and sleepy very quickly. As well as the short-term risk of being taken advantage of in this drowsy state, long-term use could result in you becoming physically dependent and suffering serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop using it.

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