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Combination of benzos and opioids increases overdose risk, says study
Posted in Addiction

The use of benzodiazepines, also known as tranquilizers or sedatives, is quite risky and dangerous, and when combined with drugs like prescription painkillers or heroin, the risk increases manifold. A recent study analyzed in detail the effects of combining the two by studying the claim records of beneficiaries of Medicare prescription drug benefit plan, popularly known as Medicare Part D.

According to the study, published in the JAMA Network in June 2018, 20,665 of the 71,248 respondents, were simultaneously on anti-anxiety pills the day before they overdosed due to an opioid prescription pill. The participants had a mean age of 66.5 years of whom, 25,600 were males and 59,532 were white. Furthermore, 14,132 of the 20,665 concurrent users of opioids and benzos (equivalent to 68 percent) had more than 180 days of overlapping supplies of both the drugs. The concurrent use of benzos and opioids is likely to increase the danger of overdose by five times in the initial 90 days of use. Thereafter the imminent danger reduces.

Rise in use of benzos

Used primarily for the treatment of conditions like anxiety, seizures and insomnia, some popular benzos are Xanax, Valium and Ativan. Valium, in particular, is the most common benzo and has assumed a cult status because of its involvement in overdose deaths of celebrities in the film and music world. In the past couple of years, a large number of overdose deaths among celebrities could be attributed to anti-anxiety medication, along with other drugs like cocaine, heroin and/or alcohol. Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith and Brittany Murphy had benzos in their systems at the time of their deaths.

Both the prescription rates for benzos and the number of overdose deaths caused due to their overuse has increased drastically in the last decade or so. Some estimates point out that millions of prescriptions for Valium or Xanax could be written each year. As was the case with prescription opioids, it is evident that the benefits of benzos are exaggerated by the pharma companies. Instead of curing anxiety, it is seen that prolonged use only furthers anxiety.

Benzos are primarily meant for short-term use only. Unfortunately, these are increasingly being used for longer periods, which increases the risks of abuse and dependency. As people develop tolerance to the medication, they could go through painful withdrawals when asked to quit the drug suddenly. Some of the symptoms of a benzo withdrawal include convulsions, tremors, seizures, increased blood pressure, etc. Both physical and psychological discomfort are associated with the process, thus, it is essential that one should be slow in withdrawing from the drug and be under the guidance of an expert.

Seeking help is the key

Self-help is undoubtedly an important part of one’s recovery from an addiction or a mental illness. But this alone is not enough to lead a healthy and productive life. It is important to ensure that the person battling an addiction seeks help from a certified medical expert to attain long-term recovery. Delaying the treatment might be dangerous as it can worsen the condition and even trigger the development of other serious health conditions.

If you or someone you know is addicted to anti-anxiety medication and needs treatment for Valium or Xanax addiction, Sovereign Health is there to help. We offer world-class evidence-based Valium addiction treatment so that one can easily overcome his/her problem. For more information on our state-of-the-art Valium addiction treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with an admission counselor to witness a life-changing experience.

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