Thursday, March 1, 2012
7 News Investigations: Xanax
It's a prescription drug prescribed to hundreds of thousands of Americans. It's highly addictive and one South Florida woman slowly realized it can also be dangerous, when misused, or mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has more on the potential prescription for danger.
WSVN -- When the news surfaced that Witney Huston's death may be linked to the prescription drug Xanax, it brought back bad memories for Jenni Meredith.
Jenni Meredith, Was Addicted to Xanax: "I felt lower than I had ever felt before."
Jenni's life started out great...
Jenni Meredith: "Went to a private school, went to church every Sunday."
But by age 16, she fell into the wrong crowd and started experimenting with drugs.
Jenni Meredith: "The first time I took Xanax was a 2 milligram bar they call them, and the race was on."
She was told to drop the pill into a soda for the fastest high.
Jenni Meredith: "Put it in a drink and let it dissolve and then you drink it and it goes straight to your head."
Within weeks, she craved the pill so much she needed it every day. When she couldn't get it from a doctor, she bought it on the street for $5 a pill.
Jenni Meredith: "If I had $5 dollars to my name it was going to Xanax."
Dr. Ash Bhatt, Medical Director, The Recovery Place: "I think that's one of the biggest epidemics nationally."
Dr. Ash Bhatt treats addicts.
Dr. Ash Bhatt: "We have seen the rise of those who are dependent on prescriptions, what we call Benzodiazepine class medications."
Xanax is the brand name for a class of drugs called Benzodiazepines. But even when taken as prescribed Dr. Bhatt says anyone can quickly become addicted.
Dr. Ash Bhatt: "Fifty percent of the average population can become physically dependent in as little as two months."
Jenni's life was spiraling out of control in a very short period of time.
Jenni Meredith: "There were points when I didn't know if I was sane or not. My mixture of choice was wine, crack and Xanax."
And it's the combination of Xanax and alcohol that has been linked to so many deaths.
Dr. Ash Bhatt: "Taking that in combination can be extremely dangerous, it can start causing respiratory depression, coma and even death."
It could be weeks before we know what killed Houston. The singer had fought addictions for years.
Jenni was only able to get off the drug with professional help at the Recovery Place in Fort Lauderdale. She recently celebrated four years of sobriety. And her life has really changed. She now has an 11-month old daughter Adriana Grace.
Jenni Meredith: "Grace for God's grace that took her father and I out of the grips of addiction and she's absolutely beautiful and the love of my life."
Dr. Bhatt says addiction can affect anybody so don't take any medications unless they're prescribed to you by a physician.
Spotting an Addiction:
-Inability to abstain from drug
-Impulse control problems
-Cravings for medication
-Don't realize negative consequences
-Dysfunctional emotional response
For more information: