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Substance misuse

What is “Xanax”?

A group of young adults sit together on a bed in a cosy bedroom. One holds a glass in their hands. Overlaid is text that reads: "Drugs Awareness Poster Hub".

Substance misuse is an issue which cuts across our organisation and we have worked with frontline staff at Surrey Young People’s Substance Misuse to produce downloadable resources that anyone working with young people, or who would like to know more about emerging trends, can download, print off and share.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication and is not prescribed in the UK by the NHS. Elsewhere it’s used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Benzodiazepine treatment appeared on Public Health England’s report ‘Alcohol and drug treatment for young people’ for the first time this year. Young people being treated for problems with Benzodiazepines almost doubled from the previous year, with Xanax seeing the biggest increase year on year from 8 to 53 children. In our Surrey Young People’s Substance Misuse service, we have seen a 10% increase in Xanax use amongst the young people we support.

Xanax may commonly be called: ‘Xanax bars’ or ‘Bars’


  • It’s illegal to buy or supply Xanax and, if you’re caught, you could be sentenced to up to 2 years for possession and 14 years for supply.
  • Xanax, if misused can cause confusion, disorientation, toxic overdose and death. It’s particularly dangerous to use Xanax with alcohol or other drugs.
  • There is a high risk of both psychological and physical dependency if you use Xanax regularly.
  • If you’re physically dependent on Xanax and you stop using, always seek medical advice and support, as there are significant risks of harm from withdrawal including death.

If you have used Xanax and you’re feeling unwell or notice someone else is unwell whilst using, after using or after stopping using Xanax, then seek medical attention urgently. Contact 111 for urgent medical advice or 999 in an emergency.