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Public health issues warning about Xanax overdoses

The Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie (DSPM) is warning parents of teenagers about counterfeit Xanax pills that are circulating in the region. Use of these pills has resulted in several serious overdoses in recent weeks.

Xanax (Alprazolam) is from the benzodiazepine group of drugs and is usually used for its tranquilizing properties; but counterfeit pills, or the resale of the medication in a non-medical context, can lead to serious consequences.

According to the DSPM, fake Xanax pills that may be contaminated or laced with harmful substances are currently being sold in the Montérégie. The Director of the DSPM, Dr. Julie Loslier, warns that the pills can be especially dangerous if consumed with other substances such as alcohol or cannabis. “Very often, the victims of these overdoses have to be transported to the emergency room by ambulance.”

Loslier says Public Health is especially concerned about the sale of counterfeit Xanax, as it seems to be especially targeted at young people. The tablets are often sold for just $2 or are given away as part of a strategy to hook future buyers. “The pills are therefore particularly accessible to teenagers,” she warns.

Signs of an overdose can include difficulty speaking and confusion, extreme drowsiness, weakness and unsteadiness, a slowed heart rate, and difficulty breathing. A severe overdose can result in unconsciousness.

Loslier suggests parents discuss the risks associated with Xanax use with their children. Resources are available on the Health Canada website, as well as in the parents’ section of the Action Toxicomanie website.

Loslier also recommends calling the Quebec Poison Control Centre at 1 800-463-5060 for more information, or for instructions in the event of a suspected overdose.

(SR)

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