Movement against use of Xanax gains steam

The emerging rap scene of today lives inside Soundcloud, a music streaming app that has revolutionized the music industry. It has been the platform which has given space for artists to achieve success without labels or radio play.

Along with many new sounds and styles there was a large increase in popularity of prescription drugs, particularly Xanax and Percocet. Although these drugs were always present in the genre, they are now seemingly a staple of the new wave. Soundcloud’s biggest stars, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Famous Dex, and Playboi Carti all have endorsed these drugs heavily through their music, often including lyrics about the drugs and even showing videos of them using them.

According to Forbes magazine, Alprazolam, or Xanax, is the second most prescribed psychoactive drug in the world. Often confused with being an opiate, Xanax is primarily prescribed to treat anxiety, however emergency room visits owing to recreational abuse of Xanax escalated from 57,419 in 2005 to 124,902 in 2010.

According to one anonymous student, a former Xanax user, “Xans were huge at Lincoln in 2015. So many kids were on them at school, that January was called Xanuary [by users].”

Although Xanax was once an extremely popular drug, the rap scene of today is in the midst of a large anti-Xanax movement.

The anti-Xanax movement is not spurred by an organization, but rather people speaking out against it. Smokepurpp, Lil Pump, Mozzy, and Lil Uzi Vert have all posted on Twitter telling people to stop doing Xanax as well as another drug, lean. Their messages were in response to rising star Lil Peep’s sudden overdose on Xanax. The pill was illegally pressed to contain fentanyl, a drug ten times more powerful than heroin.

The anti-Xanax movement is not only a culmination of underground rap fans and people engaged in its culture, but of Portland students as well, possibly because a Grant senior died this October after taking a pressed Xanax pill also containing fentanyl, according to the Oregonian.

An anonymous Lincoln student who sold Xanax says, “I think people are scared right now, not many people are doing the drug and there’s definitely a stigma towards them. Who knows if they’ll get popular again, not for a while, I don’t think.”

There are many reasons why people do drugs.

In the words of rapper Kendrick Lamar in his song “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “some people like the way it feels, some people want to kill their sorrows, some people want to fit in with the populars then what’s my problem.”

One of the most prominent authors on addiction, Gabor Mate, argues in his article “Beyond Drugs: The Universal Experience of Addiction,” many people do drugs because they are in emotional pain, they are suffering. He says that we as a society should not be asking, “why the drugs?” but “why the pain?”

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction in every age range, and for every drug is at an alltime high. So we must ask, why the pain?

Maybe a new drug will surface and soon reign supreme over rap culture, but drugs and music will always interact, as music is only a reflection of the society it exists within.