Teenagers buy Xanax on social media to cope with exam stress

Posted by jeechriz55 on May 30th, 2019

Teenagers are buying Xanax on social media to help them cope with exam stress, addiction experts have said. 

Grammar school pupils are so stressed by their work that they are taking the drug "on a daily basis," experts warned. 

Drugs charity Addaction said children as young as 13 were buying it online, and a BBC investigation found drugs advertised on Instagram and Facebook.

Journalists were able to buy products which the dealers said were Xanax and diazepam.

Both companies said that buying or selling drugs was not allowed on their platforms, and the accounts had been removed. 

Neil Coles, who works for the charity with children in Canterbury and the south east, said he was increasingly working with gifted, able children who were using it for self-medication. 

"There's a lot of use in grammar schools, a lot in those high-pressure environments.

"It's used as a party drug as well but I'm also seeing it used within the school environment - so children taking a quarter of a bar to alleviate the stress of a school day," he told the Daily Telegraph. 

He said the children using it were often "outside of those traditional drug-using cohorts" who would use it recreationally.

As well as social media, some of these children would resort to the dark web to buy the drug on illicit online marketplaces.

The dark web can only be accessed by downloading a special browser and navigating it requires computer skills.  

"These are academic children, young people who are purchasing from the dark web - that requires a degree of technical knowledge, and a degree of intelligence."

Coping with exam pressure was a particular driver behind demand for the drug, Mr Coles added. 

"There is an awful lot of pressure on them to achieve," he said. "To fail at a GCSE level may well end what they see as their future. 

"In Kent we're dealing with a grammar school system so there is a lot of pressure to get into the sixth form, which requires high grades at GCSE from year nine - I'm certainly encountering year nines using this."

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A Home Office spokesman said: "Law enforcement agencies continue to work with internet providers to shut down UK-based websites found to be committing offences and we expect social media companies to have robust processes in place to act promptly to remove content and user accounts that do not comply with their own polices."

Previous figures have suggested that children feel under increased pressure to succeed at school, leading them to curtail their social lives and avoid using their time for paid work. 

Last year a University of Manchester report found that suicide among young people rose in the period leading up to exams, and charities warned that young people needed more help with their wellbeing. 

The NSPCC has also warned that a perception that the job market is tough is also pushing children to seek counselling. 

Last year it said it had seen an 11 per cent rise in counselling sessions for children struggling with stress because of school work and exams. 

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