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Lompoc police warn parents of increased Xanax use by teens - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Lompoc police warn parents of increased Xanax use by teens

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Pediatricians and police in Lompoc agree, more Lompoc teens are illegally using Xanax. 

"Xanax is a prescription drug which a lot of kids have gotten their hands on illegally," said Det. Sgt. Agustin Arias, Lompoc Police Department. 

Police say Xanax is easy to get on the streets, it's cheap and its effects are quick-acting, but it's a downer used to treat anxiety and can do real harm to a teenager's body when not prescribed.  

"We have seen an uprising in kids using prescription drugs like codeine and Xanax," said Sgt. Arias. "I've seen kids from the age of 12 start using prescription drugs. It's often being given to them when they leave school, when they're walking home from school, or when they ride the bus."

Officials at the Lompoc Valley Medical Center Emergency Department say they recently treated four minors for Xanax poisoning.

"Xanax is actually on the rise because of its effects," said Dr. Annette Ndagano, Lompoc Healthcare Center pediatrician. "It's very quick-acting. It's scary and it's not safe at all (when not prescribed). It's a central nervous system depressant."

Pediatricians say, when prescribed in the correct dosages, Xanax or other forms of the drug can help kids who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but not when it's abused.

"I think it's very scary that they have access to this product for one, and I have to believe that there just needs to be a better parenting situation at home and I think that's what we're really lacking," said Gerry Zavala, Lompoc resident.

"Sometimes they steal it from their parents' medicine cabinet, but often times we've noticed that kids sell them," Sgt. Arias said. "They sell a Xanax bar which is 2.0 milligrams, they sell it for $10 a pill, sometimes more."

Police also say they know of teens getting the medication from family members in Mexico.

Xanax has many street names and police want parents to listen for keywords, like "ladders" or "blues."

"Zans, zannies, bars. I've heard the term 'football' because a .5 milligram is brown, in the shape of a football," Sgt. Arias told KSBY News.

"Parents should know that Xanax is very available to their children, both in schools and off campus," Dr. Ndagano added. "If you use this medication and you don't have any anxiety or any panic issues, if you use it for recreation, it's going to make you high and that's why teenagers like to use it."

"Well, I just don't want them getting access to it," said Rachel Gonzales, Lompoc resident. "So anything we can do to stop it."

Police have some ideas for parents, starting with tossing out your unused medications. The Lompoc Police Department has a prescription drug drop box for medication that's no longer needed.  

"Keep your medicine under lock and key, pay attention to how many prescribed medications you have in your home," Sgt. Arias said. "If you're not using them, go dump them."

Pediatricians say you should closely watch your children's behavior. Are they changing friends groups? 

Pediatricians say signs of Xanax usage in teens include appearing sluggish, tired, a lack of eating, dilated pupils, irritability, and changes in behavior. 

The Lompoc Unified School District says it expects its teachers to really know their students' personalities and to closely monitor any changes in behavior at school. 
  
"Just recently, you've had kids who have taken too much of it for the very first time and their reactions can be different," Sgt. Arias said. "It's an anti-anxiety medication, it's meant to calm you down but these kids don't need it, so they are using it for recreational purposes."

Additional resources:
Prescribe Safe Initiative - Santa Barbara County

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