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Why Are Benzos Popular with Teens?

Box of the benzo xanax pills on a counter  

Benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the US. Benzos are prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders which are very common in adults and increasingly prevalent in teens.

As some teens begin to experiment with drugs, they can be influenced by what is around them. With benzos available in many homes, benzos are often accessible and considered relatively safe by teens who try them. The abuse of prescription drugs among teens can have serious risks including overdose and addiction.

Rising Trend in Xanax & Other Benzo Use Among Teenagers

While many people are often worried about illegal drug use in teens, the increasing trend of prescription drug use is very concerning. It is a common misconception among teens that prescription drugs aren’t as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Statistics on teenage prescription drug abuse show that around 9% of 12th graders report having misused sedative or anti-anxiety medication. Some of the popular drugs of abuse among teens include benzos like Xanax. This may be a result of a greater number of benzo prescriptions, meaning that the drugs are more available at home.

Benzos Seen as “Safer” Than Opioids

There have been many stories of opioid misuse or overdose in teens in the news, and these drugs run a high risk for overdose. While opioid use among the youth is very concerning, the idea that benzos are a safer choice than prescription opioids or heroin is dangerous.

Benzos like Xanax or Valium are often talked about in the popular media, which can make them seem normal or even safe. There is no safe choice when it comes to misusing substances.

Benzo abuse among teens is often viewed as lower risk because they are a common prescription among adults as well as teens. Some teens believe that since benzos can be prescribed by a doctor or might be less likely to be ‘cut’ with another drug that they are less dangerous.

Dangers of Benzodiazepines

There are many dangers of benzodiazepines for teens who were not prescribed the drug or who took too many. For example, teens are unlikely to take an appropriate dose and may not know how their body will react to the drug. Teens may also mix benzos and alcohol to get high, which can be a fatal combination.

 Some of the dangers of benzos include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Addiction
  • Drug interactions with alcohol resulting in serious health problems

The risk of overdose in teens using benzos is high. Without a prescription, teens may have a negative reaction or take too much. Using benzos regularly can also result in dependence or addiction.

Benzos More Widely Available Than Other Drugs

Many teens get drugs from home or from their friends, and Xanax and other benzos are often readily available to them. The number of prescriptions and benzo-related overdoses have both increased in the US.

The opioid epidemic has received a lot of attention, and opioids are becoming more closely monitored. Benzos do not necessarily have the same level of monitoring, which can make them more accessible at home and in the streets.

Teen drug use is often guided by what is available, and benzos are not hard for many teens to get. Keeping benzos safe can include hiding prescriptions, securing them at home or disposing of them correctly.

If you or a teen you care about is struggling with a benzo addiction, Next Generation Village can help. We offer a range of inpatient and outpatient programs that can support your recovery. Reach out today for more information.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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