What are Benzos? Xanax Bars, Ativan, Klonopin, and More Benzo Drugs
For those not familiar with the term “benzodiazepine,” it represents a class of anti-anxiety drugs which includes Xanax bars, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc. While these substances are trending, particularly in the youth, I consider medications from this class the most dangerous mind-altering substances if abused. It amazes me how benzo drugs are abused with such impunity. It amazes me that they’re trending. It also amazes me how the general public lacks quality education regarding the dangers of abusing these substances. Society demonizes Meth, heroin, and crack. If I told a random person I had a problem with smoking crack, I would instantly be ostracized by that person due to the negative stigma surrounding the drug. If I were to tell the same person I struggle with abusing Xanax bars, the problem wouldn’t likely lead to the person gasping and looking at me as if I suffered from leprosy. What’s crazy about this is benzodiazepines are just as dangerous as the drugs mentioned above. In fact, based on genetic predisposition they can be more dangerous than any drug out there.
One night I took a Xanax bar which contains 2mg of the active ingredient, alprazolam. This dose is four times higher than the commonly prescribed 0.5mg. Nothing happened. About a week later I told my brother I wanted to try Xanax bars. He looked at me and exclaimed, “don’t ever do that crap again!” Apparently, the drug did work. I just had no recollection of it at all. As soon as the alprazolam made its way across the blood-brain barrier, I was in a full-on blackout. My brother told me I had a hard time walking. He had to hide me from my mother. I was drooling and repeating over-and-over, “I love Xanax.” I had no recollection of even feeling the buzz as it started to kick in. I thought I went to bed and the drug didn’t work, I was wrong.
The next time I got ahold of Xanax I was aware of this and decided to take 1.5mg. I was conscious throughout the experience. At first, I felt all of the relaxation effects of alcohol without any of the dizziness. I also didn’t feel as foggy. In fact, I felt more clear-headed than I did when I was sober. It had a stronger anxiolytic effect, all anxieties dissipated entirely and that was the source of euphoria from the drug. I wasn’t worried about the future. I was living in the moment. I was free. I felt so little anxiety I could have been facing a near-death experience, while I was still going to be worried since I was conscious, I wouldn’t have any fear facing the edge of death.
The problem is that was a majority of the high from benzo drugs, lack of fear. Sure there was a nice euphoric buzz, but that buzz was mild in comparison to other substances I had taken. As a result of the subtle buzz and lack of anxiety, I would want to make the buzz stronger. My inhibitions were so lowered by benzo drugs that I didn’t need to rationalize taking more pills. I didn’t have any worry about how much I was consuming or how I would deplete my stash. If I didn’t re-dose with more of the drug, I wasn’t “high” enough to justify staying awake when all my body wanted to do was sleep. Sub-blackout doses of Xanax bars would lead me to my bed where I’d lay there considering all the hype around the drug and think to myself, “this is just an overly-glorified sleeping pill.”
If I had enough pills to take more, I always did. Since I consistently blacked out to wake up not remembering the experience at all, I would wake up to the realization that I had taken 20 Xanax bars only remembering having had popped two. I remembered starting to use the drug and the peak of the high right before I blacked out, but after that, it was as if I went to bed right after the peak. I didn’t go to bed. Instead, people around me would tell me horror stories of what I did the day or night before. I wasn’t myself.
I prided myself on the fact that I never drove drunk in my life. I’ve operated my car on hallucinogens, ecstasy, meth, and many other compounds and that was ok – the mind of an addict. But never would I operate a motor vehicle drunk or on downers in general. It was a principle that allowed me to retain an insignificant source of ego in a place where I was full of shame and regret. I never drove while conscious on benzo drugs, where I had a choice in the matter, but when I blacked out, I drove every time as if my willpower to retain my principles disintegrated. I never remember a black-out so I can’t say what goes through my mind, but it’s as if the car is screaming, “Go somewhere, Philip!” One time my brother was in the car with me when I was in a black-out. He says I was barely able to drive. I was swerving all over the road, speaking incoherently, as he had to pry my fingers from the steering wheel before I killed someone. Considering the vast amounts of times, I abused benzodiazepines. It’s astonishing that I had never hurt someone or ended up convicted with a DUI charge.
Downers were never my thing. They were a useful escape. If they were there, I’d take them even though I preferred the manic episodes triggered by stimulants. Of the various downers I’ve abused, I can see how they’d be very psychologically addictive to people who seek relaxation from using substances. Benzo drugs come wrapped in a pretty package, a pill that takes all fear away. All anxiety is cleared out of your system so fast, and at such a high intensity you forget how you ever were anxious about anything. Your muscles relax as you sink into a bed gazing at the ceiling with thoughts and a buzz that sooth your core as if warm water trickles down a cold soul.
Philip Markoff (Associate of Science) is an online influencer and thought leader on addiction education; he is known as his alias “CG Kid” who’s obtained a large audience primarily on YouTube as a vlogger and journalist. His current sobriety date from polysubstance chemical dependency is June 9th, 2013.