As the opioid epidemic continues to spread across the country, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths per year there is a new wave of drug abuse that seems to be affecting a particular subset of young people. Xanax abuse is on the rise, partially due to its glorification among stars of a particular subset of new rap artists like Lil Peep, Lil Xan and Lil Uzi Vert who have extensively spoke about their abuse of the drug on both social media and in their music. This particular subset of music is exceedingly popular among teens and young adults and many adults are growing concerned with the impact that the blatant glorification of Xanax abuse that is occurring.
The subset of music, often referred to as Soundcloud Rap, is quickly growing in popularity among young people not only in America but across the globe. The genre is called Soundcloud Rap because it initially gained popularity on the online music distribution service Soundcloud, which is a newer attempt by musicians and entrepreneurs alike to buck the traditional music industry. The platform gives musicians much more freedom when it comes to not only distributing their product to consumers but allows them to avoid the censorship that large media corporations may put in place. While this may seem like a good thing for music in general, it does remove some of the safety mechanisms that past restrictions and regulations have placed on the music industry. Without these, musicians are free to glorify whatever behaviors they like, regardless of their potentially damaging impact on teens and young adults.
While it is not uncommon for new musical styles and genres to worry the older generations, this particular genre of music may have a few more concerning characteristics that parents of teenage kids should be worried about. In this situation the influence that these musicians are exerting over their young audience is not glorifying sex or money, but instead an extremely dangerous drug which can not only lead to devastating addiction but in many cases can lead to death via fatal overdose.
Xanax, which is classified as a powerful benzodiazepine primarily used for the treatment of moderate to severe anxiety, has led to numerous fatal overdoses including perhaps the most well-known Soundcloud rapper Lil Peep. His fatal overdose highlighted the significant issue that has been plaguing the Soundcloud rap community seemingly since its inception, which is the glorification of the use of this dangerous drug.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is the trade name for the drug alprazolam, which is a prescription medication that falls into the benzodiazepine class of anti-anxiety drugs. While it is not as commonly known for abuse and misuse as other prescription drugs like opioids (Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin) it is an extremely powerful medication with a high potential for abuse.
Normally prescribed for moderate to severe anxiety and panic disorders, Xanax is a commonly prescribed drug and when used properly, under the supervision of a doctor, it can significantly reduce a patient’s anxiety and improve quality of life. However, because of it’s pleasure producing effects it also has a high potential for abuse and has begun to grow in popularity with young people as a recreational drug. While it is not as well-known as opioids, all benzodiazepines, including Xanax, are just as devastating due to the fact that they as so addictive and they cause often times severe withdrawal symptoms for those who stop taking them without medical supervision. In fact, while opioid withdrawals can be extremely uncomfortable, they are typically not dangerous. However, that is not the case with Xanax and other benzodiazepines. In the case of those who have struggled with Xanax abuse for a long period of time, stopping the medication without medical supervision can be very dangerous with symptoms such as seizures being possible.
The connection between Xanax abuse and rap music
While Xanax abuse is not a new issue among those who are struggling with substance abuse, the modern concern that many people have is the glorification of the drug by Soundcloud rappers. This subculture, which is increasingly popular with teens and young adults regularly makes mention to Xanax, its intoxicating effects and the lifestyle associated with substance abuse in general. Certainly, rap and counterculture in general typically go hand in hand. Since the music genres inception, it has been regularly blamed for societal problems but most of the time these issues are overstated. However, in the case of Xanax abuse and Soundcloud Rap the concerns are very real.
The danger stems from not only the regular mention of the drug by many of the genre’s biggest stars, but the glorification of the drug as well as the lifestyle associated with it. America’s youth is typically extremely influenced by it’s music stars and this is no exception. However, the danger of this influence is magnified considerably. Unfortunately, in these cases drug use and abuse is typically portrayed as “cool” or the tragic nature of drug addiction is worn as a badge of honor as opposed to something to be feared.
This is the crux of the problem. While it is mostly harmless when music stars from any genre glorify and potentiate certain social norms, like big rims on cars or something like that, it becomes a public heath hazard when stars are essentially telling America’s youth to abuse drugs because it is cool or admirable. This plays into Soundcloud Rap’s larger theme of disaffected and lost youth among the current generation of adolescents. Perhaps the fact that America’s youth identifies with these feelings so strongly is part of the reason why this genre of rap has gained so much popularity, however it is dangerous to suggest to our youth that a way to deal with these feelings is by abusing drugs.
Opioid and Xanax abuse: A deadly combination
Another dangerous aspect of Xanax abuse is the fact that the drug is often times abused in combination with opioid drugs as well. Particularly for young people, such as those who are influenced by the Soundcloud Rap culture, the combination of opioids and benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax are quite popular due to the effects that these two types of drugs create when taken together. Both of the drugs have sedative and pleasure producing effects on their own, but those effects are typically magnified when they are taken together.
Unfortunately, while the drugs work together to create a more pronounced sedative effect, this creates a significantly increased danger of fatal drug overdose. Together, these drugs have a tendency to drastically lower a person’s respiration and many times fatal overdoses occur when their breathing is slowed so significantly that they do not receive enough oxygen and the body shuts down.
To make matters worse, while there are emergency medications such as Naltrexone that can counteract the effects of a typical opioid overdose, this medication does not counteract benzodiazepines however. This is yet another fact that contributes to the reality that while opioid abuse is currently getting all of the headlines for the country’s substance abuse problem, Xanax abuse is a similarly deadly problem that is not getting the same attention. This could be leading to a lack of knowledge among young people, who may think that Xanax and other benzodiazepines are safer than drugs like opioids.
Getting help for Xanax abuse
While Xanax abuse is a severe and often times devastating problem, the good news is that in the past few decades the treatment methods and options have come a long way. While treatment for Xanax abuse used to involve nothing more than things like support group meetings at churches, more modern methods for treatment have evolved to the point where the disease is absolutely treatable and does not have to spell disaster for an individual or their entire family, as long as the proper form of treatment is acquired.
The first step in fixing a problem is realizing that there is one. As soon as you or your loved one have accepted that they have a drug problem and are ready to get help with their Xanax abuse, the next step is finding the most appropriate and effective rehab for them to attend. While there are many great programs across the country, it is important to consider that there are different types and levels of drug and alcohol programs and not all forms are going to be appropriate for all people.
The first thing to consider is how far the disease has progressed, someone with mild Xanax abuse may benefit from attending an outpatient program where they meet with a counselor and few other patients 2 or 3 times a week. This is also only appropriate if the individual has a strong family support system and a healthy, drug-free, living environment to stay in. For those who are more moderate to severe Xanax users, or those who do not have a stable and healthy living environment, then inpatient treatment for Xanax abuse is typically the more appropriate form of treatment. This includes living at an residential rehab for anywhere from 30 to 90 days, during which they will be medically detoxed from the Xanax as well as any other drugs they have been abusing and attend daily counseling sessions in both group and individual forms.
Inpatient treatment has many benefits for Xanax addicts as it allows them to live in a safe and stable environment during the first few months of their sobriety, which is often the most difficult to navigate. This is often crucial for drug addicts because of how easy it is to obtain drugs when a craving hits, if someone is living at home and attending outpatient treatment they may fall into these temptations, however if they are in an inpatient facility the urge to go out and drink or use drugs is often much less apparent.
No matter what your situation is, it is important to ask for help when you are looking for treatment. Get advice from others who may have been through the same thing, ask a lot of questions and go and tour any program before committing to it if at all possible. Finding the perfect treatment center is one of the most important factors to the overall success of someone’s recovery from Xanax abuse.