Xanax Abuse Among College Students

Contributor: written by Staff of The Recovery Village

alone-480474_640Xanax, or alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine – a prescription medication commonly prescribed to treat anxiety issues and panic disorders, including phobias. Occasionally, the drug is also prescribed to patients attempting to manage the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or depression.

Xanax provides a sedative effect to users, helping them to calm themselves down when feelings of acute anxiety arise – the larger the dose, the stronger the sedation. Some patients with a prescription for the drug come to view it as a crutch and take more than recommended when they feel anxious. Others use the drug recreationally to get high.

Prescription or not? Abuse Still Happens

College students commonly abuse Xanax and other benzos, with or without a prescription. They may combine the pills with use and abuse of other substances, including alcohol, or they may take more than their prescribed dose.

The problem with these choices? A huge risk of overdose, accident, or medical emergency under the influence.

If your loved one is living with a dependence upon Xanax or regularly abuses the drug for any reason, treatment can be a lifesaver. Contact us now for more information on treatment services, including detox, that can help your loved one to move forward from Xanax abuse or addiction.

Treating Mental Health Symptoms

College students living with anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and other issues for which Xanax is commonly prescribed may find the medication to be a game-changer, helping them to manage symptoms in a way that they otherwise would be unable to do alone.

Some patients, though, come to rely heavily upon the medication, opting to depend on the pills alone in order to deal with anxiety rather than working on the issue through therapy and learning the coping skills necessary to manage the issue more holistically.

When panic strikes, patients may take more pills than recommended or chase them with an alcoholic drink. This can cause over-sedation, which in turn can create a high that can become addictive. Worse, too much of the drug – or combination of drugs – can result in overdose and death.

Signs of Xanax Overdose

In some cases:

  • Confusion
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Difficulty with coordination

In advanced cases:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to be roused
  • Slowed or stopped breathing and heart rate

If you believe that your loved one has overdosed on Xanax, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately.

The ‘Adderall Antidote’

car-407165_640Prescription pills are a problem in every age group in the United States, but among college students, one of the most prevalent issues is Adderall abuse. A drug prescribed to those who are living with ADHD, Adderall is a stimulant drug. College students use it in order to stay up late, focus and study for long periods of time, and accomplish a multitude of things in a short period of time.

Unfortunately, when it’s time to sleep, the drug can make it difficult, if not impossible, to wind down. Students often feel agitated, restless, and anxious – and turn to pills like Xanax to help them slow things down. The result is a roller coaster of uppers and downers that can very easily lead to a life-threatening medical emergency and a dependence on prescription pills.

Managing Anxiety and Stress Holistically

When Xanax abuse or addiction is an issue for the busy college student, with or without a diagnosis for an anxiety disorder or phobia, learning how to manage one’s stress level and anxiety without medication becomes a keystone in their recovery.

There are a number of different ways to help oneself to feel better holistically, without using medication of any kind. Many patients utilize a combination of options that they feel comfortable with, including:


According to a study published in the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine,

“Yoga therapy alleviates the hyperarousal of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypervigilance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that occurs in anxiety.”

Regular practice can serve to help patients lower their overall levels of anxiety. It is also a tool that can be utilized in an acute situation when anxiety begins to become overwhelming.

Mantras and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can be helpful in easing anxiety in patients, according to a study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Students can develop mantras that speak to their personal challenges and goals and use them to get through stressful situations.

Breathing exercises

Practiced in yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices, focusing on the breath slows the nervous system, helping the patient to get control of some of the physical symptoms of anxiety like rapid heart rate and hyperventilation.

Improved lifestyle choices

Irregular sleep and poor nutritional habits may be part of the reason why anxiety and stress have such power in a person’s life. Learning how to eat healthfully and working toward a regular sleep schedule can improve mood and energy levels as well as lower stress.

Becoming Drug-Free

If Xanax is an issue for your loved one in college, stopping use of all drugs and alcohol is a big part of the journey to stability without Xanax abuse. Contact us today and connect your family member with the right treatment services for his or her needs.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What is your experience with Xanax among college students?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 8th, 2014
Published on AddictionHope.com