Benzodiazepines Involved in Nearly Half of Opioid Overdoses

By design in Articles | | 18 Jun 2015
 

After more than a decade of fighting overseas, many servicemen and women have returned home injured both physically and mentally. Many veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to self medicate their ailments, often times with unfortunate results. Without proper access to effective psychological care, veterans look to both prescription opioids and benzodiazepines (aka benzos), such as OxyContin ® and Xanax ®, for a solution.

While these drugs are quite effective at managing pain and calming one’s nerves, when mixed together they can create a deadly cocktail.

Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids and Benzos

New research suggests that nearly half of all veterans who died from prescription opioid overdoses were also receiving benzodiazepines, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers from Rhode Island Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and the Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System examined the relationship between the opioids and benzodiazepines with regard to overdose deaths among veterans. The findings were published in BMJ.

The Dangers of Mixing Prescription Narcotics

“The risk of receiving both opioids and benzodiazepines during this six-year period was approximately four times higher than in those who received opioids alone,” said Tae Woo Park, M.D., attending physician at Rhode Island Hospital. “From a public health perspective, this is deeply troubling, because drug overdoses are a leading cause of death in the U.S. and prescribing benzodiazepines to patients taking opioids for pain is quite common. In 2010, 75 percent of pharmaceutical-related drug-overdose deaths involved opioids. As we learn more about pharmaceuticals and how they interact with each other, we can try to reduce the risk of harm to patients.”

The Common Prescription Drugs Involved in Overdose Deaths

Common opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (i.e. Vicodin ®)
  • Oxycodone (i.e. OxyContin ®)
  • Morphine (i.e. Roxanol ®)
  • Codeine (i.e. Tylenol 3 ®)
  • Fentanyl (i.e. Fentora™)
  • Methadone (i.e. Diskets ®)

Common benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprozolam (i.e. Xanax ®)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (i.e. Librium ®)
  • Clonazepam (i.e. Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (i.e. Valium ®)
  • Lorazepam (i.e. Ativan ®)
  • Temazepam (i.e. Restoril ®)

Treatment

If you are currently battling with prescription drug abuse, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. While Design for Change is a state licensed, social model detox facility, with benzodiazepine addiction treatment, medical detox is often deemed necessary – arrangements will be made to ensure the care you need is provided before entering treatment.