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Xanax-Related Emergency Room Visits Increase, Study Says

Fri, 23 May 2014 08:00:41 +0000

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Misuse of the sedative alprazolam, most commonly known as Xanax, is still sending thousands of people to emergency rooms, with experts noting a sharp increase in cases between 2005 to 2010.

The five-year rate doubled from 57,419 to 124,902, according to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released Thursday. Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

The drug sent more than 123,000 people to the hospital in 2011, down slightly from numbers in the previous year, but still indicative of a larger issue. Taking alprazolam with alcohol or prescription painkillers can depress the central nervous system, researchers say, and has the potential to be deadly.

Non-medical use, which brought increased numbers of people to emergency rooms, can lead to physical dependence and cause withdrawal symptoms such as tremors and seizures.

“When used as directed, alprazolam is safe and effective, but misuse can result in serious health consequences,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “This report highlights the need to educate people about the dangers of misusing or sharing prescription medications and the importance of properly disposing of unused medication.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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