Anti-Anxiety Drugs Most Commonly Abused by People Under 30

Did you know the rate of overdose deaths from anti-anxiety drugs alone increased fourfold from 1996 to 2013? And there's a common misconception that anti-anxiety medication is safe because it's prescribed by a doctor?

But that's not always the case.

Let's take a look at a few anti-anxiety drugs most commonly abused by people under 30.


Prescription drug abuse of anxiety medication such as Xanax is widespread among those under 30. Xanax is the name brand for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine (benzo) used to treat generalized anxiety, PTSD, social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Xanax was originally created in the 1960s for use as a sleep aid and muscle relaxer. It was soon discovered that it had properties ideal for addressing anxiety.

Xanax works by calming excessive responses of the Central Nervous System. Xanax was officially approved by the FDA for the use in anxiety treatment in 1981. Those who use Xanax experience an ever-increasing rate of tolerance, meaning they need more and more of the drug for the same effects.

Typical symptoms of Xanax misuse include:

  • Light-headedness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Grogginess
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Stomach discomfort and vomiting
  • Dizziness

If Xanax is mixed with alcohol or a narcotic painkiller, it can make a person fall asleep and cause their breathing to slow. This can eventually lead to respiratory arrest and death.


Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam, a benzo prescribed to treat seizures, panic, phobias and social anxiety. Klonopin is known to have sedative properties and became available on the market in 1975.

When abused, Klonopin provides a euphoric sensation and a completely relaxed mind and body.

Signs of abuse may include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsiness
  • Agitation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Aggression

Serious and often life-threatening consequences of Klonopin abuse include:

  • Rashes
  • Extreme trouble breathing
  • Excessive depression of the Central Nervous System
  • Seizures
  • The inability to catch your breath, eventually leading to suffocation

Risk factors for drug abuse and addiction include impulsivity, low maturity level, negative peer pressure and unaddressed trauma.


Valium is the name brand for diazepam, a benzo used in the treatment of generalized anxiety, phobias and social anxiety. Valium is categorized as a tranquilizer and often aids in sleep disorders.

Some common signs of abuse are:

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Respiratory issues
  • Sedation
  • Tremors

The more severe and potentially fatal effects of Valium misuse are:

  • Seizures
  • Preoccupation with self-injury or suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation


Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzo used to treat panic, phobias, and generalized anxiety. It is one of the most powerful benzodiazepines available on the market.

Signs of Ativan abuse may involve:

  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Trembling/tremors
  • Loss of balance
  • Profuse perspiration
  • Hallucinations

Ativan abuse is extremely dangerous and can result in life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Memory impairment

As with any abused substances, warning signs of Ativan abuse include lying about use, stealing money or medications from others and increased secrecy and defensiveness when asked any questions.

Support For Addiction Recovery

The disease of addiction sweeps through families with its destructive force and leaves only chaos in its wake. Addiction takes an incredible toll on trust, relationships and finances.

But there is hope.

If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for addiction, check us out at Pathways Real Life Recovery in Sandy, Utah. We support you in regaining your power to make positive changes in your life. Give us a call today at 801-895-3006 so we can answer any questions you have.

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Michelle Amerman
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