(HealthDay News) – There’s been a steep increase in the number of Americans being treated at emergency departments for abuse of the prescription medication alprazolam, federal officials reported Thursday.

The number of emergency department visits related to abuse of alprazolam (brand names Xanax, Xanax XR, and Niravam) climbed from >57,000 in 2005 to nearly 124,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

In the United States, alprazolam was the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medication in 2011 and the 13th highest-selling medication in 2012, according to the report.

“This report highlights the need to educate people about the dangers of misusing or sharing prescription medications and the importance of properly disposing of unused medication,” Pamela S. Hyde, JD, a SAMHSA administrator, said in an agency news release.

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