June 9, 2016

Xanax Joins Opioid Abuses As Dangerous Drug

Photo: Shutterstock

[From article]
Minnesota’s wrestling program is being investigated internally and by campus police after an anonymous wrestler alleged that teammates were using and selling Xanax. Coach J Robinson was placed on paid administrative leave June 1 by new athletics director Mark Coyle.
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Overdose benzodiazepine deaths are growing, Lee said, but that’s not the only frightening thing about benzodiazepine addiction. For one thing, one’s tolerance for drugs such as Xanax increases quickly and by leaps and bounds, as Dimler can attest.
Dimler had tried Xanax in high school, he said, but just once. “It didn’t do much for me,” he said. So when, as a freshman at Macalester, a friend suggested he try it to help him sleep, he didn’t think twice. He took 1 milligram, four times the usually prescribed dosage.
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Perhaps even more dangerous is the fact that, like alcohol, benzodiazepines can cause blackouts, which is how Dimler came to be in police custody. In a sense, he was lucky. Blackout behavior on drugs like Xanax can be dangerous.
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“It’s incredibly dangerous, and as with alcohol, you don’t have to be addicted to have a blackout.”
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“His senior year (in high school), he had secondary enrollment at Northwestern College; he already had 34 college credits when he graduated,” she said. “He had a 16-dollar-an hour job. He had a girlfriend for four and a half years. Then he went to Macalester and within three months was fully and completely addicted to Xanax.”
There is no training component to taking Xanax, which often is taken to increase the effect of other drugs to which users already are becoming tolerant. For Dimler, it was marijuana. For others, Lee notes, it might be heroin. Suddenly, a user is addicted to two drugs.
After being academically suspended at Macalester at the end of the first semester in December, Dimler was off the football team and out of hope. Xanax, he said, had “robbed me of all motivation.”
He enrolled at Century College but didn’t go to class, just took Xanax and smoked marijuana. By then, Dimler estimates, he was spending up to $1,500 a month on Xanax, buying from acquaintances, or strangers on the street at the corner of Snelling and University avenues in the Midway neighborhood.
When the money ran out, Dimler sold some of his own pills, something Lee notes is common.
“People shouldn’t jump so quickly to conclusions,” Lee said. “It sounds horrible — ‘dealing drugs.’ But you’d be surprised to see how many kids are involved with dealing prescription drugs on college campuses. If it’s finals, and your friend is struggling, you have an extra Adderall and sell it for five bucks, you just dealt drugs.
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James Johnson, manager of addiction care for HealthEast in St. Paul, said the majority of patients he sees are abusing prescription drugs.
“What we hear from our young adults is it’s easier to get those kinds of drugs than alcohol and nicotine, because people are checking for those,” Johnson said.
They’re also easier to obtain than opioids and cheap; Dimler said he was buying bars for $5, and Lee said that price can be as low as $2.
Lee said benzodiazepines, real and counterfeit, are easily available on the illicit Internet marketplace known as “the dark web.” Using a program that will disguise a computer’s IP address, virtually anyone can buy drugs online without a prescription and have them delivered anywhere.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Xanax bars out there,” he said. “It’s such a craze that kids are getting wise to counterfeiters that are using pill pressers to create fakes that look like Xanax bars.”
According to data compiled by Carol Falkowski, founder of Drug Abuse Dialogues in St. Paul, alprazolam was the 10th-most prescribed drug in the Twin Cities in 2014-15. In an April report called Twin Cities Drug Abuse Trends, alprazolam is listed sixth among drugs seized by law enforcement over the same period.
If not for his run-in with police, Dimler might still have been using, or worse, instead of graduating from a two-month treatment program in South Minneapolis.
The plan is to move in with his mother, get a job and ultimately go back to school in the fall or spring, maybe at Augsburg, maybe the University of Minnesota. He has a pre-trial hearing July 12 to address his arrest on fourth-degree driving while impaired.
Dimler acknowledges that he once “had everything going for me.” A starting defensive end on the Macalester football team as a freshman, he had a scholarship worth $63,000 a year. Had he applied himself, he said, he could have earned a valuable degree from one of the country’s most respected schools.


Xanax is ruining people’s lives
By Associated Press
New York Post
June 9, 2016 | 2:39pm

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