There has been a surge in the number of emergency room visits related to abuse of drugs like Xanax. Federal officials say numbers have more than doubled in six years.
News 2 checked with local doctors who have also seen the spike.
“I think over prescription of these medications is a very common problem,” Dr. Peter Martin, head of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center said.
Xanex is a medicine that fits many common symptoms like sleep and anxiety.
Doctors say it is a drug that works when used properly, but over time can become a problem.
“Xanax in many ways is like fools gold. It seems to work, but yet overtime it stops working.”
Dr. Martin compares Xanex to alcohol in tablet form.
“Just like with alcohol, people can become groggy, people can become less alert, people can be less able to walk right. So it’s very, very similar.”
The trend of abusing the sedative continues to tick upward as more people show up in the emergency room.
“I think the Xanax problem has been going on ever since we got Xanax,” Dr. Martin explained.
He adds that the non-medical use of the pill can lead to physical dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms such as tremors and seizures.
Doctor Martin said anyone with an addiction to the drug needs medical attention to help them break the habit.
It is suggested that everyone with prescriptions for sedatives and opioid painkillers should lock them up while they are in use and dispose of them when there are leftover, unneeded supplies.
Tennessee has a prescription reporting service that doctors can check to see if a patient is already getting the drug from other doctors.