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The Dangers & Risks of Taking Counterfeit Xanax

Counterfeit Xanax presents a variety of risks and dangers that are not associated with using authentic Xanax, including the potential for fatal overdose if the pills contain fentanyl or another toxic substance.

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What Is Counterfeit Xanax?

Authentic Xanax contains alprazolam, which is categorized as a short-acting benzodiazepine. But counterfeit Xanax may have any substance in it. The user never truly knows what they are getting since the production of these pills is not regulated.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, 6 out of 10 counterfeit prescription pills, including fake Xanax pills, have a potentially lethal amount of fentanyl in them. This number has increased from 2021 findings, which showed that 4 out of 10 fake pills contained lethal amounts of fentanyl. 

There are a variety of reasons why counterfeit Xanax is produced. In many cases, criminal organizations acquire fake pills at a low cost. They then turn around and sell them as authentic Xanax for the going rate. Adolescents and young adults are often targeted as potential buyers. 

Key Facts About Counterfeit Xanax

Key Facts

  • Counterfeit Xanax is sold on the street, and it is often laced with other drugs, such as fentanyl.
  • Fake Xanaz pills often look identical to real Xanax pills. It can sometimes be virtually impossible to differentiate them without testing the substance.
  • If someone overdoses on fake Xanax, it can be more challenging to treat the overdose since it isn’t known what exactly was in the pills taken.
  • Most often, people seek out Xanax on the street for its relaxation and calming properties. The goal is often to lessen stress and anxiety.

What Substances Are Used to Make Counterfeit Xanax?

Just about every prescription drug on the market has generic versions that come at a lower cost than popular brand names. However, counterfeit Xanax does not usually contain generic ingredients. Instead, counterfeit Xanax often contains other illicit substances.

Substances such as fentanyl and methamphetamine are often used as substitutes in counterfeit Xanax pills. These sorts of substances are used to ensure that the end user experiences some sort of high, which will dissuade users from thinking they’ve been conned in any sort of way.

Many of these counterfeit Xanax pills have lethal doses of fentanyl, which can trigger an overdose, even after only taking one pill. Fentanyl and other opioids may create a sense of relaxation, so people think they are actually taking Xanax.

Another problem with counterfeit Xanax is that there are no regulations associated with manufacturing or sales, so the end user will never truly know what sort of product they are getting exactly.

What Are the Dangers & Risks?

The primary danger associated with counterfeit Xanax is the threat of overdose since you don’t know exactly what you are taking.

If a product is counterfeit and laced with something like fentanyl, overdose can easily happen, and this can be fatal. 

Dangers of Taking Fentanyl

Fentanyl is responsible for a large uptick in opioid overdose fatalities. Even if overdose doesn’t occur, it comes with a range of dangers.

Dangerous side effects of taking Fentanyl include the following:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

Fentanyl also comes along with negative psychological effects, which include the following:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia

Overdosing on fentanyl can result in physiological and cognitive damage, coma and death.

How to Avoid Counterfeit Xanax

The most effective way to avoid counterfeit Xanax is to never purchase this sort of medication on the streets or from anyone but a medical professional who gives you a prescription. Only take Xanax that you are prescribed, and only take it exactly as it is prescribed.

These are a few other measures you can take to avoid purchasing or acquiring fake Xanax:

  • Never purchase medication online or via social media.
  • Avoid purchasing any drug that is advertised by a slang name, such as bars, ladders, planks, and bricks.
  • Avoid using prescription medication recreationally.
  • Avoid purchasing medication from street suppliers.
  • Only fill prescriptions at licensed pharmacies.
  • Do not purchase Xanax from overseas organizations.
  • Do not use Xanax for recreational purposes.

If you take steps to only purchase Xanax or any prescribed drug from a licensed pharmacy, you won’t run into a situation where you take counterfeit Xanax. If you have been misusing Xanax and can’t stop, it’s a sign that you need professional addiction treatment.

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. One Pill Can Kill. (January 2023). Drug Enforcement Administration.
  2. Teen Xanax Abuse Is Surging. (April 2018). PEW Charitable Trusts.
  3. Alprazolam. (May 2022). StatPearls.
  4. Naloxone for Opioid Overdose: Life-Saving Science. (June 2021). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  5. What's in Fake 'Xanax'?: A Dosage Survey of Designer Benzodiazepines in Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Tablets. (March 2022). Drug Testing and Analysis.
  6. Alert: Counterfeit Street Pills and Fentanyl-Related Overdoses in Carroll County. Carroll County Health Department.
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