Gone are the days when people would snort chalk and sniff sanitizers and whiteners…we have a potent weapon available to our disposal.

Better known as ‘Alprax’ in India and ‘Xanax’ in the states, a minor tranquilizer has become a cause of worry for it is being sold without a prescription in most pharmacies worldwide, but let’s stick to our country which is home to 200 million people suffering from depression.

The popular and long held notion related to Alprazolam (the salt in alprax and Xanax) is that is ‘treats’ and ‘cures’ depression, however, the truth is that the effect of the salt only lessens the intensity of mental agony that a person suffers by alleviating symptoms which come with anxiety and depression, and not curing it altogether.

The salt ‘Alprazolam’ is classified as a benzodiazepine (benzos), a class of drugs, which the law requires pharmacies to sell ‘only’ with a prescription, but do we pay heed to the law unless it holds us by the neck?  I did not want to associate the illegal sale of Alprax with terrorism, but the so-called ‘saviours’ of mankind, are indeed, pardon my language, terrorists, allowing the sale of lethal weapons without the sanction of the government, and under the law enforcers’ noses.

The law is thought of, and framed, keeping in mind the welfare of the people under its constitution, and the reason behind the unlawful sale of benzodiazepines is its short term effects, A.K.A, ‘high’, which makes it popular amongst the youth of the country who do not need to call up their bob marley fanatic friend to lend them some maal (No offence to bob marley fans. I myself am a lover) when they can recreationally enjoy the Rs. 26 ‘maal’ from their neigbourhood chemist.

The poly-drug use of powerful depressant drugs poses the highest level of health concerns due to a significant increase in the likelihood of experiencing an overdose, which may cause fatal respiratory depression. Its enhancement of the effects when  taken with alcohol, cannabis, LSD, heroin, and even serving as a cure to ‘bad trips’ poses a risk for developing further damage to the brain.

What is almost entirely unknown to people popping this drug is that it is habit-forming, and the body craves for its mood altering effects, notwithstanding the phenomenon of withdrawal symptoms, some of which actually require small doses of other mood altering drugs – Paving way for a vicious cycle of dependency. Its risk also includes the increased rate of suicide, most likely caused by disinhibition.

According to a 1983 study, taken for 8 weeks, 65% of patients experienced significant rebound anxiety. And mind you, here I have used the term ‘patients’ whose drug intake is regulated. Don’t even get me started on how it could adversely affect non-patients. Tapering off is a suggested method for proper withdrawal, according to leading psychiatrists.

While the regulations are in place, and there are some law abiding pharmacies who never sell such drugs without valid prescriptions, the law needs to be stricter when it comes to administering the actual implementation of its policies. This is serious, and we do not need more movies on such issues (Shout out to Udtaa Punjab)…Please do not condone such activities and seek medical help if you find yourself on the verge of popping a pill without being ‘medically’ prescribed with it.

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