Saturday , April 1 2023

Xanax: the new public enemy | PHILIPPE MERCURE


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Philippe Mercure

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Presumably alleviating anxiety is a cause for concern. The Xanax, a medicine for anxiety, is diverted to the street and is now forged in covert laboratories in Quebec. Revealed by part of the hip hop culture, explosive when mixed with alcohol, it is hidden from young people. To the point where the RCMP now consider it as problematic as fentanyl.

Teens seeking escape who end their evening in the emergency room. Minors under the influence of drug victims of memory loss and sexual assault. Older people who wanted to fix sleep problems but who are addicted to drugs.

Police authorities and Quebec doctors are concerned about the rise of Xanax, an anti-seizure medication that is increasingly diverted to the black market and counter-operated in covert laboratories controlled by organized crime.

Sergeant Jacques Théberge, a specialist in synthetic drugs at ... (PHOTO ANDRÉ PICHETTE, ARCHIVES THE PRESS) - image 2.0

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Sergeant Jacques Théberge, Synthetic Drug Specialist at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police


"The Xanax, we don't talk enough. For me, this is something of a concern in Quebec. There are more and more," he says Press Sergeant Jacques Théberge, a synthetic drug specialist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The specialist goes so far as to compare the crisis with that caused by fentanyl, this opioid 40 times more potent than heroin.

"It worries us as much as fentanyl," says Théberge. Fentanyl is troubled by its power; Xanax is concerned that young people are consuming it, it is insignificant and it is becoming more and more false. The

The Police Department of the City of ... (PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, ARCHIVES THE PRESS) - image 3.0

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The City of Montreal Police Service does not keep numbers on Xanax takings especially, but in Laval, 475,591 tablets were seized this year, far more than the 285,867 tablets seized during the past year. .


According to the specialist, Quebec is particularly affected by the Xanax wave. Although Health Canada warns that analyzes are not necessarily proportional to the size of the market, Quebec is also responsible for the vast majority of counterfeit compounds analyzed by the Department (367 analyzes in Quebec in 2019, against 120 in Ontario and 33 in Alberta) .

"Criminal organizations are behind these labs. They are not tempted by fentanyl, but they are tempted by that, because there is a very strong market in the United States as well."

– Jacques Théberge, RCMP synthetic drug specialist, on Xanax

Like Valium, Ativan and Rivotril, Xanax and its generators are part of the benzodiazepine family. They are mainly prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders. It is not yesterday that these drugs are being used for recreational purposes, especially by young people.

"Xanax is a depressant, so the effects are very similar to those of alcohol. We are attenuated, we have a certain distance with reality and emotions, we are more relaxed. People become more discouraged, a little higher," explains Marie-Ève ​​Goyer, Chief Medical Officer of the Continuing Addiction and Homelessness at CIUSSS in South Central Montreal.

According to the Goyer, teenagers have long been pushing Xanax tablets into the "dad-mom-pharmacy" to experiment with their effects. Already critical, the situation has become troubled by the recent arrival of clandestine labs that manufacture fake Xanax in Quebec.

Mélanie Perrier, Corporal at the Drug Awareness Service and ... (PHOTO PROVIDED BY RCMP) - image 6.0

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Mélanie Perrier, a corps with the Drug Awareness and Organized Crime Branch at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

PHOTO Provided by the RCMP

"The problem is that the active ingredient in Xanax, alprazolam, is no longer the only antiviral pills to be found," says Melanie Perrier, a corporation with the Drug and Organized Crime Branch at the RCMP. .

Cocktail of substances

Health Canada analysis on captive tablets shows that what is being sold as Xanax in Quebec is no longer really. Alprazolam is long in the list of detected substances, behind compounds such as flubromazolam, cyproheptadine, doxepin, etzolam or flualprazolam. In short, allergic drugs are mixed with antidepressants and alfrazolam derivatives, which are often more potent than this one. Some tablets also contained cocaine and amphetamines. Fentanyl was found in tablets in western Canada, but not in Quebec.

"We end a lot of cases where people think they take substance X, but actually take substance Y, they completely lose the card and end up in the emergency room. There are a lot of things in their urine and people are surprised."

– The Marie-Ève ​​Goyer, Chief Medical Officer of Continuity of Dependence and Homelessness at the CIUSSS-Sud-de-l-Île-de-Montréal Center

According to the RCMP, counterfeit tablets are now responsible for most of those in circulation. The federal police suspect that in relation to fentanyl, the active ingredients are imported from China. The vacuum cleaners are then assembled on desks in covert laboratories located in Quebec, some of which have been disassembled by the police.

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Tablet press in clandestine Xanax lab

PHOTO Provided by the RCMP

Xanax tablets are downloadable and easy to order online.dark web). "The king of Xanax violates the dark web was a Quebecer, but he is retiring, "says a source well aware of what was being sold there and who did not want to be named. Today there are at least 100 Canadian sellers in illicit online markets. A dose of Xanax is sold for less than a dollar. Tablets containing up to 7, 5 mg of active ingredient is shown, while pharmacy tablets are between 0.25 and 2 mg.

Pfizer warnings

Xanax's manufacturer, the multinational Pfizer, wants to remember that the drug is indicated for "short-term alleviation of symptoms of excessive anxiety" and not "anxiety or tension associated with stress of daily living." In an email to Press, the company recalled that Xanax should always be consumed under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

"We are working with law enforcement agencies around the world to identify, mitigate and prevent the illegal trade in anti-fire drugs," the company says.

Urgences-santé has seen its Xanax-related interventions more than double in two years, from 43 in 2016 to 96 last year. At 1 ama August of this year, there were 62. A case is told from the moment the word "Xanax" is pronounced during the 911 call.

"It's clear that there are more cases than the numbers," says spokesman Stéphane Smith. In the field, paramedics note that Xanax is often mixed with opioids or alcohol.

"The consequence is the same as for opioids. We go to unconsciousness, then we can breathe a stop, then a cardiac arrest."

– Stéphane Smith, spokesman for Urgences-santé, on the effects of Xanax

The City of Montreal Police Department does not keep figures on Xanax seizures in particular. In Laval, 475,591 tablets were seized this year, far more than the 285,867 tablets seized last year. The RCMP say it is receiving calls from school stakeholders about this drug.

The Laval Police Service has already ... (PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, ARCHIVES THE PRESS) - picture 12.0

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The Laval Police Service has already captured almost twice the amount of Xanax tablets it captured last year.


"Over the last year, public health warnings have appeared in Gatineau, Estrie, everywhere," says Corporal Perrier. Faced with the wave, RCMP want the subject to become more familiar. In September, police will travel to a Regional Emergency Medical Conference to be held in Les Escoumins on the North Shore to discuss Xanax.

"It affects our youth. It is important to inform parents, but also young people themselves, about the use of these substances. People need to understand that they are not sugary," says Corporal Perrier.

"The heroin of benzodiazepines"

Xanax works by slowing brain activity. In itself, it has lower risks of overdose than those of opioids. But fake tablets and mixes change the game. Xanax's cocktail and alcohol, two depressants, are especially explosive as the two drugs come to synergy. Slow and difficult speech, dizziness, fatigue and confusion are many consumers. Loss of memory is common. Consumption can lead to coma, respiratory or cardiovascular arrest, and death.

The Marie-Ève ​​Goyer stresses that among the family of benzodiazepines, Xanax is especially treacherous. "Xanax is the heroin of benzodiazepines. It's a drug that works fast, but it fades quickly. That's why you have to come back quickly to find the effect," said the patient who receives more and more patients, including young people, in the emergency room. from Notre-Dame hospital.

The addictions he creates are well documented. "A strong and fast impact is all you need to become addicted," she says. It is a Pavlovian mechanism of immediate reward. Xanax also creates an addiction, so you need to consume more and more to feel the same effects. Clipping, difficult and dangerous, must sometimes be done under medical supervision.

– With the collaboration of Daniel Renaud, The Press

New rape drug?

Xanax may have contributed to the sexual abuse of two teenage girls. According to recent court documents obtained by PressReportedly a sex girl was raped and her 14-year-old friend was subjected to unwanted sexual touching during a party where both teens were using Xanax and alcohol. The raped teen was later black and found unconscious in a snow bank by police, according to the documents.

"I'm not surprised to see a file like this. We're dealing with substance abuse from the family of the depressed. It's in the same category of effects as GHB or alcohol," says Melanie Perrier, a corporation with the Drug and Organized Crime Branch at RCMP , who believes that Xanax may be needed. as a new "rape drug."

Is a drug prescribed?

Xanax is over-prescribed and poorly prescribed in Quebec, according to the Dre Marie-Ève ​​Goyer, chief medical officer of Continuity in Addiction and Homelessness at the CIUSSS Center-sur-de-L & # 39; Île-de-Montréal.

"Xanax should be given temporarily for certain specific things. You have been robbed, you are anxious and you cannot sleep, and you are prescribed two or three weeks, at most a month. But that is not useful at all in Quebec right now. It is prescribed too long, especially for the elderly who have trouble sleeping, "says the specialist.

“At some point, when we get too depressed, do we get back with addicted people who end up turning to the illicit market?” Asks the specialist.

Prescriptions for Xanax and its generals are slightly lower in Quebec. In 2018, 33,122 people shared 342,208 prescriptions, compared to 378,334 prescriptions 10 years ago (down about 10%).

Hip-hop, hang-ups, bake and overdose

They are called "xannies", "xanbars", "cufflinks" or "benzos" (referring to the benzodiazepine family). Online, a true subculture encourages and slows the use of Xanax, a potentially deadly drug that has already killed its share of artists. "When something is promoted by celebrities, young people become curious. They see the celebrity who doesn't seem to have problems and think they can try as well. It's unfortunate," says RCMP Corporal Mélanie Perrier.

Jewelry and shirts

Keys, rings and smart phone cases showing the image of Xanax pills. Pendants illustrating the alprazolam molecule, an active ingredient of the drug. Glasses on which you can read "Xanax smoothie". T-shirts that claim "I love Xanax" or "Calm down – take Xanax". On the Etsy e-commerce site, legions are articles glorifying the famous anxiety disorder.

On the Etsy website, there is ... (PHOTO OF THE ETSIA Site) - image 13.0

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On Etsy's website, there are hangers illustrating alprazolam's molecule, Xanax's active ingredient.



Xanax is very much a part of the hip-hop culture, especially in singers who identify with the mum-rap called mum rap, characterized by a slightly articulated dick. When he crossed the milestone of one million subscribers on Instagram, in 2017, rapper Lil Pump celebrated with a cake … with a X-shaped Xanax tablet. "By the way, I put 500 xanz in the cake," he wrote below the picture of the cake, earning hundreds of thousands of like-minded people. The following year, the artist claimed to no longer consume Xanax.

Lil Pump and its shaped cake ... (PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE INSTAGRAM CONTENT @LILPUMP) - image 14.0

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Lil Pump and its cake in the form of Xanax


extra buildings

Singer Lil Xan has unambiguously chosen her stage name Xanax. His first album is titled Total Xanarchy, another reference to drugs. The artist told several media outlets that she had been addicted to Xanax for two years before she could resign. Today he is fighting this drug. MC Chance The Rapper, Isaiah Rashad and Smokepurpp also claim to have fought an addiction to Xanax.

Singer Lil Xan in 2018 ... (PHOTO THEO WARGO, ARCHIVE AGENTS FRANCE-PRESS) - picture 15.0

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Singer Lil Xan in 2018



The rapper Lil Peep, he ended up paying for his life for his Xanax. On November 15, 2017, the 21-year-old was found dead in his tour bus. Earlier in the day, he posted a video of him claiming to have, with hard work, swallowed six tablets of Xanax. According to several media reports, the autopsy report found an overdose of Xanax and fentanyl. Benzodiazepines were also part of the cocktail that killed the founder of the A $ AP Mob collective, A $ AP Yams, in 2015. Luckier, the luckiest rapper, was hospitalized but survived an overdose of Xanax. He says he doesn't consume it anymore, but keeps talking about it in his songs.

Lil Peep died on November 15, 2017 of overdose ... (PHOTO CHAD BATKA, THE ARCHIVES OF NEW YORK TIMES) - image 16.0

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Lil Peep died on November 15, 2017 from an overdose of Xanax and fentanyl.


Praise and call for help

On the Reddit community site the benzodiazepine community has 35,600 members. You’ll find everything from consumer tips to people who say they’ve swallowed massive doses and branded them as trophies, to calls for help. "I have been on Xanax for four months – 1 mg in the morning and 1 mg in the evening. I have no prescription. I try to stop, but it is difficult. I spent 29 hours without Xanax and almost suffered a nervous breakdown. […] Please, someone, help me, "wrote one of them.

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