Take Your Pills: Xanax (2022) Movie Review – A human doc that never scratches below the surface

A human doc that never scratches below the surface

Mental health is a massive deal and perhaps now, more than ever before, the masses are starting to understand and take it seriously. In the US, with the era of Big Pharma and insidious advertising abound, it’s shocking to find out 1 in 8 adults use Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, to get through the day. But what long-term effects does this have? What triggers anxiety? And what can be done to change our culture?

Take Your Pills: Xanax is predominantly tailored toward US citizens and is a film that examines America’s relationship with drugs and, in particular, the prescription crazy situation that’s led to many taking Xanax to control their anxiety.

This documentary film predominantly centers on the experiences men and women have had with Xanax, both good and bad. Across the 90 minute run-time, the documentary explores the backstory for several different people and what triggered their anxiety episodes – and how they control that.

Phoebe’s heartbreaking story of sexual assault in the military is easily the stand-out part here, although Matt’s struggles with fitting in are equally as resonant. Each of these stories help to paint a picture of the wide demographics that are likely to be prescribed these drugs, although there is a really neat element toward the end of the film that focuses in on the new generation of kids growing up and how they’re becoming affected by this.

Most of the film centers on these individual experiences though, with a few chimes from experts and therapists in the field to boot. In terms of content, most of what’s here is pretty surface-level and other times there are some outright contradictory and incredulous statements made.

At one point, one of the therapists talks about the damaging effect of Xanax long-term… and how she prescribes cannabis to help with symptoms of anxiety instead. The irony here, of course, will be that anyone who takes marijuana long-term is more prone to suffer from anxiety and paranoia! As a long-term marijuana smoker myself (who’s now been sober for over 10 years) I’d never felt more paranoid than I did when I smoked weed.

There’s also a segment here that discusses the dangers of social media and the always-online situation we find ourselves in. This is only slightly brushed upon (The Social Dilemma does a fantastic job diving into this) and whether intentional or not, a moment at the end sees another health professional telling us we need social connections and that loneliness is bad. And then the camera flashes to a picture of someone on their phone messaging. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not but it feels pretty careless, along with the aforementioned cannabis quip.

Largely, Take Your Pills: Xanax is all about the people and their experiences both good and bad. From that perspective, this film is fine but it’s also pretty perfunctory in the way it presents its material at times. This film shines a spotlight on the situation without ever really diving below the surface, failing to explore nitty gritty issues at a cultural level, calling out Big Pharma, the media or health professionals for contributing toward our heightened state of panic and anxiety. This isn’t a bad documentary but one can’t help but feel this could have been so much better.

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  • Verdict - 6/10

5 thoughts on “Take Your Pills: Xanax (2022) Movie Review – A human doc that never scratches below the surface”

  1. To me it came across as a commercial for Xanex and perhaps a whole family of
    big pharma options to deal with certain mental health issues. It had the positives, side effects and the warnings you here at the end of the 30 second commercials for legal reasons was slowed down to two hours. Take your own pills Netflix… I’m canceling my subscription.

  2. Nice review but one comment in it speaks to the documentary’s overall sloppiness. Case in point – it initially presents Xanax and anti-anxiety medications as if they’re all interchangeable. So after showing Xanax users talking about their experiences it quickly shows a second of Gayle King on CBS stating “1 in 8 Americans use them”. So I can see why anyone watching it would be left with the impression that 1 in 8 Americans takes benzos. But if you press pause you’ll see she’s referring to all anti-anxiety medications not just Xanax. Of course, later on they mention that not all anti-anxiety medication are in the benzodiazepine category but by then the negative association has already been established.

    CNN’s “This is Life with Lisa Ling” aired an episode in 2019 called “The Benzos Crisis” which was far and away more focused and thus more informative. This one was all over the place.

  3. as a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and a prescribing psychiatric provider, I have to say that I hate seeing documentaries like this that are scaring people away from what can be a positive life-changing medication when correctly prescribed in the appropriate context AND correctly consumed by the patient. they need to target the irresponsible prescribers and big pharma, not the medication itself. xanax isn’t supposed to “make all your worries go away” as a cast member put it. it is supposed to quell anxiety enough to make you functional or allow you to sleep.

  4. Hey, thanks for commenting! I do agree that a small amount of cannabis can definitely help you sleep and it’s really good that you’re off prescription meds, congrats for that! I’m glad it works and this: “All people need to treat themselves with what works best.” I completely agree with. If it’s working for you that’s fantastic and tbh the amount of coffee I personally drink every day is probably not good for my health so I’m not exactly a health guru!

    Thank you for taking the time to write your comment though, I really appreciate it.

    -Greg W

  5. As someone who battled a prescription addiction with Xanax and fought the horrible withdrawal to free myself…and as someone who now uses cannabis to help me sleep at night and turn my mind off, I feel your overall generalization is wrong. Maybe for you that seems like the wrong way to go but for others it might work. I’ve been off prescription meds for 4 years and have used cannibis products since. A small dose at night to help me rest and my life is much more fulfilled and my mental state way better than it’s ever been. I’m not saying you are wrong, everyone is different. I’m that same sense you can’t generalize your experience and make it seem like gospel. All people need to treat themselves with what works best. I don’t know if either are great long term solutions but as individuals we all need to work with what works for us and not let others saying one is better than the other play a part in seeking help for problems. I just wanted to give my opinion. Thank you!

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