Burning Questions: What Happens When Fish Get Hooked on Xanax?

Photo: flickr/Damian Gadal

Photo: flickr/Damian Gadal

While anti-anxiety drugs may be helping some in the human population, they seem to cause a complete lack of inhibition in one population of the aquatic kind. According to Scientific American, a new study has found that benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax may “cause fishes to become less timid and to feed faster, among other effects.”

Why is this even an issue? Because plenty of pharmaceuticals get dumped into rivers and oceans, so fish are getting drugged up on anti-anxiety meds more than you might think. Moreover, the issue could become even more serious as the pill-popping works its way up the food chain—after all, “fishes without fear are fishes that quickly get eaten by larger predators, such as pike.”

One obvious solution is to stop flushing old drugs when we are not going to use them; instead, we should “return them to pharmacies for proper disposal as well as, potentially, develop new treatments for sewage facilities that can filter out the drugs coming into the water via human urine.”

[via Scientific American]

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