WESLACO – Abuse of the prescription drug, Xanax, continues to grow in the Rio Grande Valley. A local substance abuse prevention center said the drug is popular among the youth.
Police said prescription drug traffickers are making their way across the international bridges. Many of the cases end up in the hands of local investigators.
Xanax is a prescribed drug doctors give to patients suffering from anxiety.
“It slows down the brain function. Like I mentioned, slows down the breathing, their heart rate. And all these things and they could easily fall asleep but it can also happen that they go into a coma and just not wake up from it,” Vianca Vieyra said.
Vieyra is a coalition specialist with the Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas. They help prevent substance abuse.
Vieyra said they conduct surveys for schools across the Rio Grande Valley.
The new report shows Xanax is one of the most abused prescription drugs; 3.7 percent of students between seventh through 12th grade claim to have tried it.
“It may not seem like a big number but just thinking about it, how many youth are using if you combine all the schools,” she said.
The pills are trafficked in the Valley.
“This is very common I can tell you that every PD, usually most PDs, come across this once a week at least. Xanax bars are very prevalent drug,” San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said. He’s still working on a case from 2016.
“It was forward to us by the Progreso Port of Entry and we were able to prosecute through the state and we did seize about 1,590 Xanax bars from that suspect,” he said.
Gonzalez said the drug is quick to get and used more often because it’s cheap.
“Two dollars at time depending on the milligrams they have and Xanax bars. Itself might run you up to $6 all depending on the seller,” he said.
Vieyra said more prescription drug education is needed in the schools.
“So Xanax, with the other prescription drugs, they just keep coming in and in,” she said.
Vieyra and the police want to prevent this trend from continuing.
One way the UNIDAD coalition, part of Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas, is trying to prevent prescription drugs getting into the wrong hands is a deactivation pouch. It’s an easy way to dispose of pills, liquids and patch-type medicines.