Fake Xanax on the Rise

Categories: Addiction News, Opioid Addiction

For decades, the desire to fit in has spurned a global black market for counterfeit goods, making this an industry worth about $500 billion US dollars. Now more than ever, the Instagram-happy generation is more inclined to buy fakes to consistently maintain their social media feeds. But while it is unlikely that fake Guccis and fake Yeezys will kill you, there’s a new breed of counterfeit products that will… fake Xanax.

Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam which is a benzodiazepine drug widely prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Said to be a “mild sedative”, this drug was first marketed as a safer, less addictive alternative to barbiturate tranquilizers. It became a widely prescribed drug with millions of prescriptions being given for alprazolam in the United States.

The popularity of Xanax reached its peak when it was constantly referenced by hip-hop rappers in hundreds of songs. Celebrity rappers like Eminem, Danny Brown and Li’l Wayne somehow made it sound cool to “pop a Xan” and that “takin Xannies” is a common thing to escape from reality. But while these musicians can shell out the cash to get prescribed the authentic Xanax, not everyone does. The search for a much cheaper, no-prescription required alternative gave rise to the fake more dangerous version.

What is Fake Xanax?

XanaxIn appearance, fake Xanax may look exactly like the real thing including its size, color, and markings. The difference is in its composition. It is common for street drug dealers to combine or “cut” drugs with other substances like baking soda or talc. This practice creates a weaker version of the drug but since they produce more pills, this means more profit. But with fake Xanax, it’s a different story altogether.

Instead of creating a weaker version of the drug, the counterfeit version of Xanax is laced with a deadly synthetic opioid called fentanyl. Fentanyl is a very potent painkiller that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and morphine.

The existence of fake Xanax first came to the attention of doctors in late 2015 when users came to the ER with traces of fentanyl in their blood. The doctors suspected that the Xanax pills they took were counterfeit and this was later confirmed when the Xanax pills were tested.

Why Do People Take Fake Xanax?

There are different reasons why people take fake Xanax.


A lot of people prefer to self-medicate rather than go to the doctor when they want to have a quick fix on alleviating their feelings of anxiety, social pressure or depression.


Xanax is used as a party drug and is often combined with alcohol and opioids. The pills often sold in clubs or on the streets are counterfeit.


Some people buy Xanax outside licensed pharmacies to save money not knowing that these are not the real drugs.


Since Xanax is an effective anxiety medication, most people usually take the real thing at first. However, many are not aware that it is possible to get accidentally addicted to the drug.  What starts out as a genuine quest to treat anxiety disorder turns into a full-on addiction. This causes people to seek out a continuous supply of Xanax.


Various news reports conveyed stories of schoolchildren in the US and in the UK popping these pills. Many teens get prescription drugs by stealing from their parents or family members. When they want more, they cannot really go by themselves to get a legal prescription from a doctor unless accompanied by an adult. Buying from social media is usually how they get these fake drugs.

The Dangers of Fake Xanax

XanaxBecause Xanax is a widely prescribed drug, people get a false sense of security that it’s not as bad as illicit drugs like meth or cocaine. However, what most people do not realize is that going off the drugs is not an easy process. The withdrawal effects of Xanax can be severe and dangerous. Because it acts fast and leaves the body quickly, the symptoms can take you by surprise. This makes people crave it more to get the same effects.

When Xanax popping becomes a habit, getting a prescription or doctor shopping might not always work. This is when fake Xanax becomes an easier option. Like all drugs sold on the streets, there is never a guarantee what’s in the drugs you’re getting. What you might think is your normal, safe dose could be deadly. With fake Xanax, the dangers are very high since it is laced with fentanyl. This substance is so strong that even 0.25 milligram of fentanyl can kill you.

XanaxIf you have a legitimate medical disorder, you can avoid counterfeit Xanax by only buying from licensed pharmacies. You may unknowingly be making your situation worse or even killing yourself when you try to save money by buying from people or unauthorized websites.

If you are using for recreational purposes, the only way to avoid fake Xanax is to stop misusing the drug. Getting off Xanax may be difficult, but it is not impossible. By seeking help from professional rehabilitation facilities, you can effectively curb your addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction, help is available today. You can reach out to us at Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more how we can be of help.

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