The opioid pandemic has claimed countless lives over the last two decades, and the government has been working with physician organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and law enforcement agencies to limit the abuse of prescription medications. Dealers have been able to circumvent these efforts by pressing pills and selling them as if they were real medications. Pressed xans are sold as if they’re Xanax but may contain other dangerous ingredients. 

An Introduction to Pressed Pills

As more doctors become hesitant to prescribe narcotic medications, drug dealers have come up with alternative methods of selling opioids. Xanax, often referred to as xannies, z-bars, white boys, bricks, blue footballs, planks, benzos and pressed bars, is a drug that’s commonly sold on the street. Pressed xans look identical to prescription Xanax pills, and it’s hard to verify their purity or whether they’ve been mixed with other medications such as fentanyl or methamphetamine.  

The devices needed to manufacture pressed pills are easily accessible and very difficult to trace. This has allowed criminal networks to market counterfeit medications such as Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin and Adderall over the internet. According to the DEA, there have been over 93,000 deaths in the United States linked to overdoses, and many of the pills involved were counterfeit medications such as pressed bars.  

Due to the introduction of other substances into these pressed pills, it’s easier to become addicted to them. Fentanyl is one substance found in pressed pills that increases the risk of a deadly overdose. Sometimes it takes only a single pill for someone to experience a lethal overdose.  

How To Identify Pressed Pills

There’s no effective pressed pill identifier because these pills are made in the same shapes as prescription medications and have the same markings. According to a news release in January 2022, the main difference between pressed pills and actual prescription medications might be in how durable the counterfeit pills are. They’re more likely to break apart because they’ve been pressed using equipment that’s only designed to form them into an appropriate shape. 

A joint study between the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and The Partnership for Safe Medicine has revealed that it costs only $500 for criminals to purchase the equipment they need to press counterfeit pills. The devices can be bought on the internet, and law enforcement agencies have little ability to track them down or confiscate them.  

If a criminal is found in possession of a pill presser, the law doesn’t provide much in the way of punishment. This means criminals often receive very minor jail sentences and return to the streets quickly.  

For safety reasons, you should never obtain medications from any source other than a licensed pharmacy. Online websites that claim to sell prescription medications without requiring a doctor’s approval may be scams. And in many cases, there’s no way to tell what’s inside the pills until it’s too late.    

What Do Pressed Xans and Other Pressed Pills Do?

Xanax is frequently prescribed for people who suffer from anxiety disorders. If someone experiences panic attacks, for example, they may be prescribed Xanax to reduce the frequency or severity of these events. The medication works on the brain and nervous system to produce a feeling of calm and peace. Doctors need to monitor patients who use Xanax because it’s an opioid medication that could create dependence.  

If someone becomes physically or psychologically dependent on Xanax, they may need a higher dosage or more frequent doses to get the same effect. As the dependence grows, withdrawal symptoms feed the need to take more of the medication. The problem with pressed xans is that they don’t just contain Xanax. 

Fentanyl is the most common substance mixed into counterfeit pills. It’s a pain medication that’s seldom prescribed due to an extreme risk of dependency. When people press pills with fentanyl, it’s meant to create an addiction so the individuals who purchase them return for more.  

Xanax Side Effects

Drowsiness is the most common side effect of Xanax and the reason many people begin to take it. They attempt to use the drug to relax and feel a euphoric sense of calm. Other side effects include dizziness, sexual dysfunction, hallucinations, depression, suicidal thoughts, memory loss and slurred speech. Xanax can remain in your system for up to 4 days, so continued use results in a buildup of medication in your bloodstream that peaks after using it for this amount of time. 

Fentanyl Side Effects

Fentanyl can cause numerous side effects, which is another reason doctors only prescribe it in extreme situations. The possible side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Hives
  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

Some of these side effects can be fatal. Fentanyl is also addictive and may cause dependency after only a couple of doses.  

Fentanyl is up to 100 times as strong as morphine and remains in your system for up to 3 days.  

Addiction to Pressed Xanax

Both Xanax and Fentanyl can be addictive. It doesn’t take much Fentanyl to cause an overdose, so even if someone’s been using pressed bars for a short period of time, they can still display symptoms of addiction or overdose. If someone is having difficulty breathing, is dizzy or has heart palpitations or if their skin begins to turn blue or purple, they might be experiencing an overdose. It’s important to call 911 and get immediate medical treatment for the individual.  

Aside from symptoms of an overdose, you can usually tell someone is addicted to Xanax pressed pills by changes in their behavior. They may become more withdrawn, stop participating in activities they once enjoyed, feel anxious or begin to seek access to more of the drug in dangerous ways. These may include criminal acts such as theft to obtain the money needed to purchase more of the drug. 

Treatment for Pressed Bars and Pills

A medication called Naloxone can be used to treat someone who’s having a narcotic overdose. Many public places have access to emergency Naloxone in their first aid kits, and it’s a useful medication to carry in case of an emergency. It can be given via nasal spray or injection and might save a life if given in time. Naloxone has no adverse effects when given to someone who’s not experiencing a drug overdose, so it’s a worthwhile addition to your personal first aid kit. 

Once someone is under the care of a hospital or doctor, they’ll be given medications to help them manage their withdrawal symptoms as they come down from the drug. This is only the beginning of their recovery, however, as they may need the assistance of a therapist and doctor to help them address the root causes of their addiction. 

Recovery Is Possible

Pressed Xanax pills are extremely addictive. If you or someone you care about is fighting an addiction, it’s easy to feel you’re a long way off from a normal life. The good news is that many people have faced their addictions and been able to put themselves on the path to a better life. Working with a mental health professional who understands addiction and how to deal with it is the first step. 

At FHE Health, we know a drug addiction can make every day a struggle. But there’s a silver lining to every cloud, and you can get through this with the right help. Call us at (844) 299-0618 or fill out our contact form to learn more about our treatment programs.