Ahhhh Xanax, I wish I had never met you. Xanax or “Alprazolam” comes from a family of drugs call “Benzodiazepines” which are used to reduce anxiety, seizures, relax the muscles, and induce sleep. If you’ve never tried Xanax, imagine injecting a tranquilizer directly into your brain. It silences your anxious thoughts, It makes couches and beds 1,000,000x more comfortable, it makes food tastes way better, and it will put you STRAIGHT to sleep the second you sit or lie down.
Xanax in action
Like most drugs in America, Xanax is highly addictive and overprescribed. A lot of adults in the US of A are eating these things like they’re coming out of Pez dispensers which means every American household is an open pharmacy just waiting to be abused by teenagers. It has become ubiquitous and widely accepted which makes it seem much safer than it actually is.
It’s good stuff, too good. And it’s sneaky powerful. You can accidentally take an 18-hour nap if you’re not careful. The drug is easy to overdose on, mixing it with alcohol or other drugs might kill you or turn you into a psychopath. It should not be one of the most prescribed drugs in America. Alprazolam is turning regular people into drug addicts and causing way more health issues than it’s fixing.
I was prescribed to it for about 4 years and while it helped my social life and productivity it did a lot more harm than good. And I would take more than directed as my tolerance started to increase. I would never try to procure additional pills outside of my prescription but it started lasting me 3 weeks instead of 4. And then it went down to 2. And then I realized I should probably ease up a bit. I’m not exactly the role model for self-control but I don’t think most people can resist taking a little extra when you have two powerful narcotics one pill cap away. It’s silly to think that’s responsible to give any human being.
At first, there didn’t seem to be any downside. I was happy, productive, easy to talk to, all of the things I struggled with normally. But then it started turning my memory into swiss cheese. I’m talking entire weeks where I legitimately don’t recall most of what happened. And not like “I drank a little too much and things get hazy” memory loss but more “complete and utter blackness I hope I didn’t murder somebody” darkness. Not being able to account for what you said and did at all is truly scary.
In addition to the memory thing, when I stopped taking it I would go into full-blown withdrawal. Not sleeping, barely eating, incredibly anxious, and severely depressed. It took at least 4-5 days to get back to some kind of normal.
The label says “DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL” but I’ve learned that when prescription bottles say that they’re usually trying to spoil the fun. With Xanax, that label is very important. I found that out the hard way.
Ignorance is dangerous
This story takes place all the way back in 2008. Barack Obama isn’t president yet, Blackberrys are more popular than iPhones, Ed Hardy is cool (to some people) and Lil Wayne is the most famous musician on Earth followed by the Jonas Brothers.
My friend who shall not be named for obvious reasons had just procured a pharmacy-sized bottle of Xanax bars (around 100) and started selling them and eating them non-stop. I was not a big “pills” guy for the first half of college. The only non-prescribed pills I took from time to time was Adderall because, like all millennials, I procrastinate until the last possible minute. But that was maybe twice a semester. I got prescribed to it later on that year but at the time of this story, it was still pretty foreign to me. I didn’t have any knowledge of Xanax, how powerful it was, or how much constituted “a lot” vs. “a little”. All I knew at the time was that my roommate and our friends had a lot of them and they all seemed to be having a lot of fun whilst taking them.
I abstained for a little while, mostly because I didn’t have the money to buy them, until one Friday night where the mood just felt right. I was headed to the bars and from what I had seen, Xanax made drinking way more fun so why the hell not? There were a few dollars in my pocket from my job at the knock-off Italian restaurant down the street and I was feeling good. My roommate gave me an earful on how awesome the stuff was but failed to mention how much to take and how much it amplifies the effects of alcohol.
I purchase 2 Xanax bars which are 2mgs each. Seems fairly small, right? They didn’t look like horse pills, from the outside they seemed harmless enough. I took the first one, had a beer, then before I went out I took the second one.
Let me put into context how much I had just consumed. When I was prescribed, I took 0.25 mg as a regular dose. As my tolerance went up, I moved to 0.5 mg per dose. For somebody that has never taken it, 0.25 is plenty. I took what amounted to 8 normal doses, then drank a beer which you’re definitely not supposed to do, then took another 8 fucking doses. And then I drove to the bar. Had I Googled “Xanax + Alcohol” I would’ve read a number of things that said “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU DO WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO DO” but it was 2008, I was way too broke for an iPhone and way too lazy to do the research at my desktop. So I winged it.
Xanax bars are made for recovering heroin addicts and other people that have really, really bad mental health or anxiety problems. People who can’t leave the house without having a panic attack. They are not meant to be taken by (semi) regular people. Well, unless your idea of partying is laying face down on a couch for 15 hours.
The descent into darkness
As I arrived at the bar I felt great. I was meeting new friends, texting people back, and overall being a happy, friendly human being. This was not normal for me at the time. I’d never been that comfortable at the Auld Shebeen (our shitty college Irish bar). I found a group of fraternity guys I knew playing darts so I joined in and won. Several times. My bones and muscles felt like Gumby, nothing phased me, I was unflappable.
“I should take this more often”, I thought as I approached the bar to get another beer. And then…
My memories from that night
I wake up several hours later, butt naked, pooping and sweating. I need to get my bearings. Where am I? Bathroom, hot, wood, OK this is the guest bathroom in my house. How did I get here? There are people banging on the door. What in the fuck is happening?
Its 90 degrees in this tiny bathroom and I’m more confused than I’ve ever been. The door opens and my roommate along with a girl I was hooking up with at the time are laughing hysterically. I was still Xanned out of my mind so I didn’t register what was happening. The girl leads me back to bed and I immediately pass out again. I’m too retarded to actually care about what was happening. I’m home, somehow, and I’m not in jail. I was awake enough to know that I had won in some capacity.
I wake up a few hours later in a cold sweat and immediately run outside naked to see if my car is there. It is! Thank God, but did I drive it? I need answers. I wake up the girl in my bed to start piecing together what the hell happened that night. I had blacked out before, but nothing even close to this.
How it felt not waking up in jail
So here’s the story relayed to me by her. I left Auld Shebeen, called her on the way then picked her up from this bar called “Carlos O’Kellys” where we used to drink. It was an establishment that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a cheap Mexican food place or divey Irish bar so it failed at being both. It’s a place where neighborhood drug dealers are the “managers” and you never, ever order the food.
Anyway, I apparently drove there, picked her up, drove back to my place where we proceeded to hook up in the shower for A WHILE. Loudly. Luckily my roommate who shared a room with the bathroom was in a Xanax coma. After we were done, we went to sleep but as we were about to pass out, I mumbled that I had to poop and went to the guest bathroom. She passed out, woke up 3 hours later with me still being gone and thought I had disappeared or left or…something. She tried knocking on the bathroom door to get me to unlock it. When that didn’t work, she woke up my roommate who helped her jimmy the lock. This is around the time I (kinda) woke up. They saw me sitting there in all my glory. Naked, sweating, fresh poop in the toilet, utterly confused as to what was going on.
I still have so many questions from that night. What was I driving like? It couldn’t have been that good but it also wasn’t that bad. Fairfax, VA is one of the most policed counties in the country and they LOVE catching people for DUI. If I was swerving like an idiot I would have definitely been pulled over. Also, what were the conversations like in the car? What did I sound like? I was on full auto-pilot, I can’t imagine what was being said or how I was acting. Judging by how things went though I did OK for myself. But not having any recollection of the event gave me horrible anxiety at the time, which is ironic because the drug that caused it is supposed to cure just that.
I know this isn’t the best story because of the lack of details but I wrote it as a PSA to stay the FUCK away from Benzodiazepines. I’ll go even further and say stay away from Prozac, Zoloft, anything that changes your brain chemistry unless you really need it. At the time, I really needed those pills. But as I got healthier and wiser, I realized that I could cope with a lot of my mental health problems without them.
I’m not an extreme case of depression or anxiety, 99% of the people that take these drugs aren’t either. Everybody feels sad and depressed sometimes you’re not supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows 24/7. Don’t hide, learn how to cope and embrace these feelings, even if it seems like you’re a little sadder than other people most of the time. Pills are a short-term solution with long-term side effects. Try literally everything else (therapy, meditation, exercise) before you resort to them. Don’t give yourself more health problems trying to fix your mental health issues.
And for the love of God, do not take Xanax and drink alcohol, or you may wake up confused, alone, and pooping.