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The Florida Bar

Florida Attorney General Supports Database to Track Prescription Drugs

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is throwing his support behind a plan to create a Florida statewide computer database designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

The database would keep track of patients’ prescriptions. That would allow doctors and pharmacists to discover anything unusual about a prescription.

Driving under the influence of the prescription anti-anxiety drug Xanax and alcohol can be very dangerous, according to a story in the St. Petersburg Times. Unfortunately, Florida police have been encountering more and more drivers who are under the influence of this mixture.

Florida’s Pinellas County found that 177 DUI suspects had Xanax in their systems last year. While that figure may not seem like a lot at first, compare it to the number from 1998, when Xanax was prescribed to fewer people and found in only four drivers suspected of being DUI.

Xanax is generally known as alprazolam and prescribed to treat panic disorders. While this drug is not as strong as methadone or even as popular as some painkillers, Xanax does intensify the intoxicating effect of alcohol. To make matters worse, the pill can create a euphoric feeling within users, making it popular for people looking for a quick “high.” Statistics exist stating that 37.5 million prescriptions of Xanax were written last year; an increase of nearly 8 million prescriptions from 2005. Furthermore, Xanax is easily available illegally and can be purchased from people with prescriptions or from less than reputable Web sites. It is believed that the combination of Xanax with alcohol may be as potent as three drinks.

Hillsborough Sheriff’s Sgt. Ronald Harrison works in a Florida DUI task force by the name of Operation 3D and said in the story that he encounters drivers on all sorts of drugs. With that said, he ranked Xanax, cocaine and marijuana as being the most common drugs that suspects are found to be under the influence of during arrests.

There is a report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission stating that 456 people overdosed on alprazolam last year. In fact, this drug was just behind cocaine, methadone and the painkiller oxycodone in terms of drugs causing the most overdoses in the state of Florida in 2006.

The story behind Xanax teaches some important lessons. To begin with, prescription drugs should only be used by people to whom they are prescribed. Xanax and other prescription drugs can be a very dangerous combination with alcohol. What might seem like one drink may be equivalent to a couple more when under the influence of a prescription drug like Xanax. If you’ve been arrested for Xanax DUI or driving under the influence of another drug or alcohol, speak to a local DUI attorney as soon as possible. Sponsoring DUI attorneys can look at the details in your case in more detail and help you proceed. Being charged with DUI is nothing to laugh about, so don’t delay in getting in contact with an experienced DUI lawyer.

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