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Can Xanax Be Prescribed to Minors?

Being a teenager in today’s society may come with high stress, anxiety and even depression. With the rise of social media, and the many restrictions this pandemic has mandated, it is no surprise that minors are being diagnosed with different mental health disorders. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed medication, but can it be prescribed to minors? And what are the effects of Xanax on the teenage brain? What about if your child accidentally took Xanax? Here is what you should know before going for benzodiazepines.

Can Xanax be Prescribed to Minors?: Know it Before Going for Benzodiazepines

While anxiety and mood disorders have increased in the younger population, Xanax is typically not a doctor’s first medication of choice for this age group. This is because of the quick tolerance and likelihood of becoming dependent on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can be uncomfortable, making it difficult to quit this drug. Xanax in children should be thoroughly discussed with the prescribing doctor before choosing this method of treatment. Benzos for depression are also not typically prescribed by doctors, as they commonly use antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac because these have less effects on the young brain. In some cases, minors presenting with more severe symptoms of anxiety or panic disorder may be prescribed Xanax and parents should keep in mind some of the concerning factors with this substance. What to do if your child accidentally took Xanax? Contact 911 or a medical professional immediately to ensure the safety of your child.

Understand Xanax

Xanax, otherwise known as Alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and help with sleep disruptions. This is a short-term fast acting medication that calms the brain, reducing or eliminating symptoms of anxiety. Although Xanax can be beneficial for treating anxiety symptoms, it is not typically recommended to use long-term. Xanax is addictive and is commonly abused. A person can develop a tolerance for this drug, rather quickly causing them to become dependent on the drug to function regularly. Constant use of Xanax can lead to side effects, such as dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, etc. Mixing Xanax with other drugs, especially alcohol, can lead to black outs and fatalities. Long term Xanax use can lead to negative effects, and if you are considering this option for a child or teenager, it is important to understand the way it can affect the young brain.

Disorders for Which Children are Prescribed with Xanax

Although Xanax can be beneficial for different mental disorders, Xanax in children can come with some risks. Common disorders in which children are prescribed Xanax can include anxiety disorders (social anxiety, panic disorder, etc.), or sleep difficulties, such as insomnia. Your doctor should fully discuss this option when considering prescribing Xanax to a child.

Effects of Xanax on the Teenage Brain and Children

While Xanax is a prescribed medication, that does not mean it doesn’t come with different risks and effects on the teenage brain. People often assume Xanax is a better option than illicit drugs, which is true to a certain degree, but there is still a high risk of developing a dependence or an addiction to the drug. Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that has a calming effect while reducing brain activity. Young brains are still in the developmental stage, and allowing a substance such as Xanax to “relax” the brain can have damage on the growing individual and their brain. Xanax should only be used as a short-term method to relieve symptoms of anxiety. The teenage years are often a time of experimental drug use, and many teens begin drinking alcohol. This creates a huge risk of negative side effects, and can even lead to overdoses or fatalities. If your child or teen is prescribed medication, it is crucial they are aware of the risks of mixing Xanax with other drugs.

Short Term Effects of Xanax

There is a reason Xanax is the number one prescribed medication. The short-term effects may sometimes seem to outweigh the negative effects that could come with long term use. The short-term effects of Xanax include a relief from anxious thoughts or worries, while calming the individual’s nerves and giving them a euphoric feeling. The effects are fast acting, typically within the first 30 minutes after taking the substance, and can last up to 6 hours.

Long Term Effects of Xanax

While the relief of anxiety and a euphoric feeling may sound pleasant and desirable, the long term-effects are not as desirable. When a person begins taking Xanax more frequently and consistently, they will begin to develop a dependency for the drug. Xanax is used to help with anxiety, but when a person is dependent on the drug, their brain thinks it needs the drug to function properly. This is how Xanax addiction begins. In other words, long term effects of Xanax use include:
  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Dependency for the drug
  • Addiction to the drug
Xanax is also a difficult drug to quit, as the withdrawal effects can add discomfort, increased anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. When quitting Xanax, you should always seek help from a medical professional or a rehab facility, such as Forward Recovery (844-387-6889) to ensure safety throughout the detox phase and prevent possible relapse. Living with and managing mental disorders such as anxiety or panic disorder can be difficult, but there are healthier ways to help relieve some of the symptoms. If we can teach our children and teens healthier strategies to manage these symptoms, we can reduce the likelihood of them being prescribed Xanax and prevent them from becoming dependent or addicted to this substance.

Healthy Alternatives of Xanax for Children

The first thing to be considered when dealing with anxiety in children or teens, is different coping skills they may have to help manage these symptoms. Exercise, journaling, reading, or creating artwork are all examples of healthy coping skills for children and teens. Starting your child in therapy may also be a useful way for them to talk about triggers or reasons for their anxiety or panic disorder. Growing up in today’s high demand society comes with many different struggles and difficulties, but there are healthier and more efficient ways to help treat anxiety. Speak with your doctor about different options for your child or teen before jumping to the idea of starting them on Xanax.   Citations GoodRX. “What is Xanax? Side Effects, Drug Interactions, Dosages and More.” https://www.goodrx.com/blog/taking-xanax-what-to-know/ Reviewed 25, October 2021 American Addiction Centers. “The Effects of Alprazolam Use.” https://drugabuse.com/benzodiazepines/xanax/effects-alprazolam-use/ Reviewed 16, July 2021
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