The Controlled Substances Act created the US system for ranking each drug by comparing their medicinal value to their potential for abuse. For Example, according to the DEA, schedule one drugs have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. Marijuana happens to fall into the schedule one group while cocaine is a schedule two drug. This means, according to the US Government, cocaine has more accepted medicinal uses than marijuana. Under the Controlled Substance Act, The FDA defines marijuana as a schedule one drug. Tt’s therefore “not safe to use even under medical supervision”. However, the DEA allows medical cocaine use with “severe restrictions.”
Cassandra Twining | United States
Doctors in the United States write 50 million Xanax prescriptions per year. That’s over one prescription per second. You can buy 30 Xanax pills at your local pharmacy for on average $100. That amounts to five billion dollars being spent on Xanax every single year. But what exactly is Xanax and how does it work?
Xanax, also commonly known by its cheaper off-brand counterpart Alprazolam, is a Benzodiazepine. It is commonly used to treat general anxiety disorder, panic disorders, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are a specific category of drug that works in specific receptors in your brain. The Benzodiazepines, in this instance, Xanax, attaches to the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors in your brain and diminish sensitivity to stimulation, which in turn produces the calming effect so many people love. Xanax is listed by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a schedule 4 drug. This essentially means that it is the second least likely to lead to addiction and it is very safe to take. At least according to their classification that is… So let’s look a little more into what exactly Xanax does to your brain along with the long term effects.
Treating anxiety disorders can be very difficult for some people because of the vast amount of kinds of ways anxiety can present itself. While Xanax is not the only option for treating anxiety medically, it is certainly the most commonly prescribed and most well-known option. There are 3 fundamental problems with Xanax and its long term effects on the brain.
Treating Symptoms, not Problems
The first problem being that Xanax doesn’t stop one’s anxiety, it merely numbs it. When the medication goes into the receptors in your brain and dims the sensation in the brain it effectively reduces the release of the chemicals in your brain that causes anxiety. However, the issue arises from the fact that a reduction of the release of the chemicals does not mean they go away, it just builds up.
This is why when people try to quit taking Xanax or the dosage they took wears off the anxiety feelings not only come back but comes back more forcefully. It’s essentially like sweeping dirt under a rug; it’s still there and it’s still going to affect you eventually. The problem is just continuing to build up and get worse.
This problem is enhanced by the second problem faced with Xanax: it has an incredibly short half-life. Meaning that the amount of time it takes for the drug to completely leave your system is really quick. Which makes people want to take more of the medication even when they’re not scheduled to because of the adverse effects that come when it wears off.
Xanax Addiction and Overdose
Both problems, in turn, contribute to the third and final problem that Xanax is highly addictive. Because of the short half-life, the increase in anxiety when it wears off, and the effectiveness of the drug, people quickly become both physically and emotionally dependant on Xanax as a treatment for their anxiety.
It is also very possible to overdose on Xanax, especially taken with other opioids or alcohol. In 2015 over 30,000 drug overdose deaths were the result of opioids mixed with benzos like Xanax. It is also important to note that these numbers of Xanax use are only those prescribed by doctors; Xanax is also a very commonly used recreational drug. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars from prescribing and encouraging the consumption of a drug that is continuing to increase the amounts of anxiety and addiction in our country.
Nevertheless, anxiety is a very real and serious issue. So what can people do to change the current system for go to treatment options? A community health center in Louisville, Kentucky started to notice how the mass amounts of Xanax prescriptions for patients were not only dangerous but also a drain on their resources.
Because of the lack of education surrounding the long term effects of Xanax they were also spending an enormous amount of time just simply educating people about it. This is why they decided to switch to prescribing clonazepam a similar drug with less adverse long term effects. They are trying to completely wean their patients off of Xanax altogether. There are some people who do truly benefit from its effects. However, it is such a dangerous drug that the risk just doesn’t appear to continue to be worth it.
Finally, there are a lot of ways to try and alleviate anxiety using natural methods of treatment. Exercising can release endorphins and be a cathartic experience that can help with anxious feelings. Meditation and relaxation exercises like slowly relaxing each muscle group and breathing techniques can also help. You can also try reading, writing, natural medical treatments, or anything you may feel will help.
It’s most important to remember that anxiety isn’t the same for everyone and what might work for you might not work for someone else. It takes hard work and bravery to evaluate your options and find the best course of treatment for you. It’s okay to not want to try modern medical solutions, and it’s okay to want to! What’s not okay is not having the full story of how these solutions actually affect you. Do your research and make sure you’re not just making the problem worse while trying to solve it.
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By Francis Folz | United States
Like most presidents of the 20th century, Richard Nixon was a statist. His policies reflected this throughout his troubled presidency. This, of course, includes the elimination of the gold standard, the institution of wage and price controls, and the creation of unconstitutional federal programs. Most, notably, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
A History of Harm
Since he created the agency, it has been the most prominent overlord of personal responsibility. America has a long-held claim that it is the land of the free. However, the DEA has usurped every American’s sovereignty, spending millions of dollars on arresting and detaining Americans. What for? Nixon and the DEA claimed that “subversive substances” were a public enemy.
Another adverse quality of the Drug Enforcement Agency is their stifling of medical research on prohibited drugs. From cannabis to LSD, they restrict the ability to research clear health benefits. Here are a few examples of how the DEA restrains medical progress, despite the potential to assuage many Americans’ suffering.
Cannabis and the DEA
The United States has recognized cannabis as a medicine since 1996. Despite this, the DEA’s resistance to reefer and science has been robust. While numerous studies over the past few decades have proven the benefits of marijuana, there is still much more ground to cover.
For example, it took until 1990 for scientists to discover cannabinoid receptors within the human brain. Cannabis’s designation as a schedule one substance since 1971 has been the most formidable obstacle to delving into marijuana’s myriad of health benefits. Interestingly, the state prohibited the drug far before they even knew of these receptors.
All schedule one illicit drugs, according to the DEA, are dangerous for consumption, highly addictive, and possess no medical value. First of all, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to even create a ranking such as this. But going beyond that, it is absurd for them to consider marijuana a schedule one narcotic.
More than half of all states have some form of medical marijuana, and even the federal government holds a patent for medical marijuana. Furthermore, 85% of Americans believe cannabis should be medically legal. Thus, many wonder why the state still refuses to recognize the drug’s health benefits.
Though hard to believe, magic mushrooms, like cannabis, have possessed medicinal and cultural merit for quite a while. However, in the 1970’s, Timothy Leary, a prominent member of the 60’s counter-culture movement, conducted a study called the Concord Prison Experiment. In his study, he distributed psychedelic mushrooms coupled with assisted group therapy to prisoners. He then measured recidivism rates to test the effects of psilocybin-induced treatment. Initially, the results were fruitful, reducing the recidivism rate by 50 percent.
Another trailblazing psilocybin study conducted in the 1960’s is the “Good Friday Experiment”. Led by doctorate student Walter Pahnke, two groups of theology students attended Good Friday service. Pahnke gave one group the mushrooms and left the other as a control. The objective was to assess whether or not psilocybin could deepen the religious experience.
As theorized, all members of the psilocybin group reported a substantially more profound experience than the members of the control. These results, as well as others, further discredit the DEA’s claim that psilocybin is a dangerous, addictive substance with no health or therapeutic benefit.
LSD: Lost Past and Lost Potential
In 1938, Swiss scientist Albert Holfmann successfully separated the molecule lysergic acid diethylamide while studying ergot in his laboratory. Ever since his bicycle ride home transformed into a trip of a lifetime, scientists have experimented with LSD, eager to learn of its usefulness. Scientists aren’t the only ones intrigued by the compound. Some historians believe LSD may have been at the crux of the Salem Witch Trials. One plausible explanation is that the women may have ingested ergot, a fungus found on wheat, which contains the LSD.
Although the DEA continues to categorize acid as a perilous substance with no benefit, health or otherwise, to our well-being, the scientific community continues to prove otherwise. Acid is infamous for its ability to stimulate the imagination and to make users more creative and insightful. Other studies conclude that LSD alleviates anxiety, especially amongst the terminally ill.
But perhaps the most appalling aspect of the DEA’s tyrannical stronghold over the substance is that bromine, a compound identical to acid without the psychedelic-induced trip, has repeatedly reduced cluster headaches, which are intensified migraines notorious for their painful nature. However, since bromine closely resembles LSD, researchers are often unable to further tests bromine’s inexplicable ability to relieve the agony of the horrendous headaches, leaving sufferers helpless and in excruciating misery.
The DEA, through regulation, is a great threat to the well-being and freedom of Americans. Ending this agency, and Nixon’s failed drug war along with it, would bring a new age of research and medicinal gains. Only through abolishing the DEA can we reap these clear health benefits.
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