The UK’s Fake Xanax Epidemic

Sep 17, 2018 | Blog, Recovery, Youth Addiction Treatment

From the hidden corners of the dark net to pop culture fame, the rocketing popularity of fake Xanax is creating serious impacts in the lives of Brittan’s youth.

The UK's Fake Xanax Epidemic


  • Why all the stress about a little anxiety pill? The unpleasantly real impacts of fake Xanax may surprise you. #TheEdge #FakeXanax
  • The growing anxiety surrounding the UK’s latest self-medicating drug craze is causing havoc among Brittain’s youth. #Xanax

In the early years of the UK’s fake Xanax craze, most people, including doctors, had never even heard of it. Rarely prescribed and sold mostly through hidden websites on the dark net, the issue seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Now the UK is the second-largest market for dark net sales of counterfeit Xanax, a powerful and addictive anti-anxiety drug. Its popularity among youth and its often-present availability at parties and clubs has contributed to a spate of Xanax-related hospitalisations and deaths in the UK.

Xanax vs. Fake Xanax: What’s the Difference?

Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, is a prescription anti-anxiety medication. It belongs to a category of drugs called benzodiazepines, which act on the brain and central nervous system to produce a calming effect. It comes in white, peach, or blue pills or a white bar form, and dosages are adjusted based on the medical needs of the patient.

Fake Xanax refers to Xanax pills or bars pressed by a dealer, generally using alprazolam powder imported from China. Counterfeit Xanax is typically cheaper, and widely accessible on the dark net with just a click of a button. It is also significantly more dangerous, as the dosage and content of the pills may be unknown to users. Xanax laced with the opioid fentanyl, for example, can be deadly.

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A False Sense of Security

There is a misconception among many users that pharmaceutical drugs are safer than illicit drugs. The normalisation of Xanax in mainstream pop culture through both songs and social media reinforces this idea, making the drug seem familiar and its effects known.

When prescribed by a doctor for a specific condition, Xanax is generally both safe and effective. However, Xanax can have a wide range of physical and psychological side effects, which is why it must be given under a doctor’s care. Self-medication can lead to dependence, and greatly increases the risk of negative side effects. Twenty-one-year-old rapper Lil Peep, who widely broadcasted his unprescribed Xanax use on social media, died in 2017 of an overdose of Xanax and fentanyl.

Fake Xanax, with its wild-card dosing and ingredients, is even riskier, particularly when combined with other drugs or alcohol. Mitchell Gomez, executive director of the nightlife harm reduction organisation DanceSafe, told VICE news, “Even if you think you’ve taken a Xanax to go to bed at the end of the night, that’s not necessarily what you’re taking…I think the first time people know this is an issue is when they’re hospitalised or someone dies.”

Real Side Effects of Fake Xanax

Fake Xanax can have a range of side effects depending on the contents, but some may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Low energy
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Memory blackouts

Long-term use of fake Xanax can lead to significant changes in mood and personality, psychotic episodes and hallucinations. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, you may have developed a dependency.

Because Xanax is habit-forming, users may also experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop taking it, including insomnia, headaches, depression and even seizures. This is why it is important to seek professional assistance for transitioning out of Xanax misuse and into a healthier lifestyle.

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Finding Help at The Edge

Kicking a Xanax habit can be both physically and psychologically challenging. At The Edge, our specialised inpatient care programmes are geared specifically to young men working through a range of substance and mental health issues, including Xanax dependency.

As Xanax addiction involves a combination of both physical and psychological factors, The Edge engages participants in unique programming that combines one-on-one and group therapy sessions, intensive athletic training, and outdoor expeditions. This approach treats all aspects of the addiction and the individual, and creates healthy habits that support long-term recovery.

The Edge is located in the mountains of northern Thailand, and offers safe, world-class facilities for young men to begin to rebuild their lives away from triggers and temptations. Professional medical staff are always on site to help participants through their treatment, regaining strength and confidence as they recover.

Don’t let fake Xanax make real impacts on your son’s health. Call us today to find out how The Edge can support your son as he moves into a happier, healthier lifestyle.