Popular rap artists like Eminem are fueling tranquiliser use, investigation suggests
Popular rap artists like Eminem are fueling illegal tranquiliser use, a new investigation suggests.
Benzodiazepine, a class of drug better known as the brand name Xanax, is banned by the NHS but available on prescription in the US, leading to border official seizing millions of the pills in recent years, according to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Celebrity culture is thought to be to blame for the rise in Xanax’s illicit use.
Eminem’s 2010 hit ‘I’m have a relapse’ containing the lyrics: ‘I get these panic attacks, pop a Xanax, relax’.
In Drake’s hit ‘Two birds one stone’ he raps about the actor Kid Cudi’s, his nemesis, drug use, saying: ‘You stay xanned [Xanax] and perked [Percocet] up so when reality set in you don’t gotta face it’.
Rapper Lil Peep, who is believed to have accidentally overdosed on Fentanyl and Xanax last November also sang: ‘I found some Xanax in my bed, I took that s***, went back to sleep’ in his song ‘Praying to the Sky’.
Xanax, which treats anxiety and insomnia, is not permitted in the UK as the NHS claims cheaper alternatives are available, however, the assumption the drug is safe is believed to be encouraging a Transatlantic black market.
Benzodiazepine, also known as ‘benzos’, typically cause users to build up a drug tolerance within weeks, resulting in them craving ever larger doses to get the ‘hit’ they desire.
Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, panic attacks and even hallucinations.
In January, Police Scotland issued an alert after more than 20 Xanax-related deaths occurred, which it called a ‘national issue that also extends into other parts of the UK’.
In Drake’s hit ‘Two birds one stone’ he raps about the actor Kid Cudi’s, his nemesis, Xanax use
Rapper Lil Peep, who died from a believed Xanax overdose, also sang about the drug
CHILDREN ARE BUYING THE ANTI-ANXIETY DRUG XANAX ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Children as young as 13 are illegally buying the anti-anxiety medication Xanax on social media sites such Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, a charity warned in February 2018.
Online dealers are openly advertising the drug for as little as 25p to teenagers alongside pictures of pills piled high and boasts of next day delivery.
Experts have warned Xanax, which is 20 times stronger than Valium, is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers.
It is often glamourised in US rap music and is said to be rife among grammar schools where pupils are self-diagnosing anxiety disorders due to the high pressure they find themselves under.
The charity Addaction branded such social media sites ‘unpoliceable’ after seeing a dramatic rise in drugs being advertised and sold over their platforms in the past six months.
On February 14, there were more than 3,700 Instagram posts captioned with the hashtag ‘xanaxforsale’.
Millions of tranquilisers sold illegally
More than 1.5 million counterfeit Xanax pills were sold in the UK between 2015 and 2017, according to a BBC Three analysis.
Last year, Border Force seized the equivalent of 25 million counterfeit pills, compared to 860,989 in the previous 24 months.
The BBC investigation suggested that two online sellers, who go under the names Hulked Benzo Boss and UKBenzos, flooded the market, pushing packs of 1,000 pills alongside explanations for dealers on how to make profits from drug sales.
‘It wouldn’t be on prescription if it was going to kill you’
Last month, six schoolgirls in Wandsworth, south London, were taken to hospital after suffering Xanax-related complications.
A 16-year-old from the capital city told The Times: ‘It’s cheap and easy to get and its the new thing. It’s not as dangerous as MDMA and those sorts of drugs.
‘People know you can get Xanax on prescription in the US and it wouldn’t be on prescription if it was going to kill you.
‘It makes you feel happy and high and then forget everything.’
Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, panic attacks and even hallucinations (stock)
Grime artists are fueling the use of skunk, drug researcher claims
This comes after a cannabis researcher claimed in December last year grime music is fueling the use of skunk due to artists referencing the drug in their chart-topping songs.
Ian Hamilton, based at York University, warned the popular music genre contains hundreds of lyrics glorifying the class-B drug.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he described songs featuring mentions of weed, including those by Stormzy, Kano and Wiley, as ‘essentially product placement’.
Stormzy, a 23-year-old artist who has 1.07 million followers on Twitter, heavily references cannabis in ‘Shut Up’ – a tune that saw the Mobo-winner reach number eight in the UK Singles Chart.
Mr Hamilton added that such music ‘brands itself quite well to promoting a product’ – whether that’s Nike, Adidas or even weed.
He said: ‘It’s essentially product placement by some of these artists about cannabis and other drugs, and it’s not balanced in any way and not countered by evidence.
‘What we definitely know about drug use and young people is that their expectations about the drug and who they are with have huge influence on them.
‘Lyrics can plant the seed of an idea, and it’s not an abstract idea, it’s something they do pretty quickly and at low risk.