When you’re taking drugs, the potential for fakes, such as fake Xanax, might not be on your mind. However, the reality is that there is a huge counterfeit drug market. Any time you have a Xanax, there is a chance it could actually be a fake. Learning how to spot these fakes can help you to stay safe.
What Is Real Xanax Like?
Xanax is a brand-name pill that contains alprazolam. It’s a type of benzodiazepine that is usually prescribed to people dealing with anxiety disorders. Though Xanax does have legitimate medical uses, some people abuse it or take it recreationally. Users who take Xanax report feeling the following effects:
- A calming sensation
- Feelings of relaxation
- Memory loss
Many people start taking Xanax because they feel like it helps with stress and anxiety. However, when you aren’t taking it under supervision from a doctor, it’s easy to become addicted. Due to the way Xanax interacts with the brain, it is very easy to develop a physical dependence on the drug. When you stop taking it, you can end up with intense withdrawal symptoms that make it hard to quit the drug.
How Common Is Fake Xanax?
There are many ways that fake Xanax enters the market. In some cases, they may be purposefully made to trick people with prescriptions. In 2015, an investigation by Interpol revealed that Chinese manufacturers had made over 20.7 million fake medications. These prescription drugs end up being sold to unsuspecting consumers looking to get a deal on their medicine. Each month, roughly 600 new illegal online pharmacies are opened. Depending on the manufacturer, these fake pills may just be harmless sugar pills, or they might be made out of problematic chemicals.
It is also possible for fake Xanax to be made or sold by illegal drug dealers. These dealers may market a variety of other similar-looking pills as Xanax. You can end up mistakenly taking a variety of other benzodiazepines, opioids, or stimulants. This can make it harder to regulate your dosage. Some who are trying to make as large a profit as possible might even make fake Xanax pills out of cheaper intoxicating substances like fentanyl. These Fentanyl-laced pills are extremely dangerous.
Clues Your Xanax Might Not Be Real
If you’re at risk of encountering fake Xanax, it’s important to be on the lookout for counterfeits. Real Xanax is carefully manufactured in a controlled environment and always looks the same. Counterfeit drugs can look wildly different, or there might be subtle clues in the way the drug feels, smells, or tastes. Here are some ways you can recognize fake Xanax.
The first way to identify Xanax is by its markings. Every real pill will be stamped with the indented name “XANAX” in all capital letters and a number to signify the strength. They will also have indentations where the pill is scored in halves or quarters. Depending on the strength of Xanax, you should see one of these markings:
- White oval pills with “XANAX” above “0.25” on one side, and a single scoring mark on the back.
- Peach oval pills with “XANAX” above “0.5” on one side, and a single scoring mark on the back.
- Blue oval pills with “XANAX” above “1.0” on one side, and a single scoring mark on the back.
- White rectangular pills with three scoring marks on both sides, a “2” on the back, and “X ANA X” on the front (there will be a scoring mark after the first X and before the second X).
Real Xanax has an opaque coating that is white, peach, or blue. This coating should be ever so slightly glossy and evenly colored. If you cut through the pill, it should have a very thin rim of coating around a white, powdery center. Uncoated pills or pills of another color are not Xanax. The pill is also a counterfeit if the coating has uneven patches of color or if the color is missing from any of the indentations.
Slight Alterations to the Logo
Many counterfeits use the correct logo, color, and shape of a Xanax pill, but there will be slight variations in the pill’s logo. Try researching a picture of an authentic Xanax and compare it closely to the logo on the pill you’re trying to identify. Counterfeiters often make a few common mistakes. Here are typical signs a pill is fake.
- The logo is raised instead of indented.
- The text looks blurry or lines have uneven thicknesses.
- The wrong font, such as a serif font, is used.
- Some of the letters aren’t stamped as deeply as the others.
- The X’s are the same height as the other letters instead of being slightly taller like a real pill.
- The “2” on the back is horizontal like the lettering instead of vertical.
Since real Xanax is made in a lab setting, it has to meet strict quality-control guidelines. Every real Xanax pill will be approximately the same weight as the other pills in the pack. However, if you get fake Xanax, each individual pill in a batch will weigh a little differently. Often, this difference is noticeable enough that you can feel it just by holding one pill in each hand.
Easily Shatters Under Pressure
Due to the construction of an authentic pill, it won’t crush easily under pressure. Just putting the pill on a flat surface and pressing down hard should not cause it to shatter. If you do manage to crush a real Xanax, the texture will be a smooth, slightly oily powder. Meanwhile, fake Xanax tend to feel chalky or gritty, and when they break, they often shatter into tiny shards.
Doesn’t Dissolve in Water
Due to the binding agents in real Xanax, water will dissolve a pill very rapidly. You can usually place a Xanax in a cup of water, and it will be dissolved within seven seconds. Meanwhile, a fake Xanax may take much longer. Even after a few minutes, a counterfeit pill might still be partially intact.
Unofficial Bottles or Containers
Not all fake Xanax is sold as loose pills, but it is certainly more common for counterfeit Xanax to be out of its container. Typically, real Xanax is packaged in a blister pack or in a bottle. If your pills did come in this container, examine it closely to see if it seems authentic. The manufacturers of Xanax change their labels frequently, so it can be hard to identify a real box. Generally speaking, real Xanax containers will have the brand name “Xanax,” the manufacturer name “Pfizer,” and the strength of the pill.
Why Is Fake Xanax So Dangerous?
When you take a fake Xanax, the best-case scenario is that the pill does nothing. In this case, you’ve wasted your money on false drugs but are otherwise unharmed. However, the unfortunate reality is that many fake medications are actively harmful. Since they can be laced with a variety of random chemicals, you can put your health at risk.
Exposure to Metals and Dangerous Chemicals
When drug manufacturers make fake pills, they may use a variety of random substances to copy the look of Xanax. This can range from harmless, edible substances like cornstarch to substances that are very dangerous. There have been reports of counterfeit drugs containing lead and other heavy metals. Some drugs might also contain random materials like chalk or other things not meant for human consumption. Regularly taking them can mean you end up poisoning yourself.
Difficulty Calculating Accurate Dosage
Depending on who manufactured the drugs, there’s a chance your Xanax pill might contain some sort of benzodiazepine or other intoxicating substance. Unfortunately, you won’t know just how much of any drug is in the pill you take. Even within the same batch of pills, different pills can have different levels of a drug. These sort of wildly inaccurate doses are very risky. You can end up taking too much and overdosing, or you can end up going into withdrawal after a weak pill. Furthermore, since you won’t know what drug you are taking, it can end up interacting poorly with any other substances you take.
Increased Risk of Encountering Fentanyl
One of the biggest dangers of fake Xanax is the possibility of encountering fentanyl. Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful opioid that’s cheap to make, so manufacturers will mix it into their counterfeit drugs to cheaply produce an intoxicating pill. However, due to its potency, fentanyl is very easy to overdose on. The typical counterfeit pill has somewhere between .02 to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl, and a lethal dose of fentanyl is just 2 milligrams. Therefore, taking just one counterfeit Xanax can result in a lethal overdose. Lately, the market has been flooded with fentanyl-laced items, resulting in a 55.6% increase in overdoses.
How to Reduce Your Risks of Being Harmed by Fake Xanax
If you’re concerned about these risks, you need to take steps to care for your health. Here are a few harm-reduction tips that can lower your chances of encountering dangerous fake Xanax pills.
Test Your Drugs
Since the risk of fake drugs is so high right now, many professionals recommend frequent users keep drug reagent test kits on hand. These kits allow you to test a small amount of your drug to confirm it’s Xanax or identify the presence of fentanyl and other dangerous substances. Make sure to check your state laws before ordering any test kits though. Despite being a valuable way of reducing harm among vulnerable drug users, some states do count test kits as a type of drug paraphernalia.
Always Have Narcan Available
Another important harm-reduction tool to have on hand is Narcan. This medication immediately reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and in most states, it’s legal to possess even without a prescription. Though you’ll still need medical care, Narcan buys you time to get to a healthcare professional. Since so many types of drugs right now are laced with deadly fentanyl, many healthcare organizations are offering free Narcan. If you cannot afford this medication on your own, check to see if any charitable groups in your area can help you get some.
Know When to Get Emergency Care
If you’re taking Xanax that might be fake, it’s important to monitor your health closely. In most cases, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor if you’re worried you’ve taken a fake Xanax. Some signs you need to get emergency medical care include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abnormal heart rate or blood pressure
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Muscle weakness or limp limbs
Treat Your Substance Use Disorder
When you’re in the grips of an addiction, it can be hard to stay safe. The most effective way of reducing fake Xanax risks is by not taking Xanax. Of course, this might feel easier said than done when you have a dependency on the drug. However, the good news is that there is hope. The right drug rehab program can help you detox from Xanax, manage withdrawal symptoms, and find effective tools for resisting drug cravings.
Granite Recovery Centers
Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we provide the support you need to beat a substance use disorder. We start with a free consultation where you can discuss your needs and learn about our programs. Next, we help you to build a custom treatment plan. This can include options like partial hospitalization programs or residential rehab. Our team can also assist you with choosing from treatment styles like 12-step programs, medication-assisted treatment, and individual therapy. Give us a call today.