With the recent attention that opioid addiction is receiving, it may be quite easy to forget the addiction to other drugs and their potential to grow to epidemic proportions as well. One particular addiction we would like to shine light on is benzodiazepine abuse.
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, usually go by names such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan. Typically they are prescribed by psychiatrists to reduce symptoms of anxiety, but like many prescription medications, they are often times abused by the patient.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the overdose rate brought on by benzodiazepine abuse has grown exponentially in the last several years. Moreover, between the years of 2001-2014 that rate grew faster than that of opioid-related overdoses.
Although the total number of overdoses for opioid addicts still far outweighs that of benzo addicts, the rate at which those numbers increased was faster for benzodiazepines for 13 consecutive years.
Another concern stems from the co-abuse of these two chemicals. While both pose their own set of drawbacks independently, together, they are a recipe for disaster.
Both drugs act as depressants, putting a person a sedative state. When you mix the two together, especially in high doses, the increased likelihood of respiratory depression occurs. Usually, this is a main culprit for overdose and death.
While politicians are pushing for more access to the overdose-reversal drug, Narcan, and medically assisted treatment, it is important to know what role benzodiazepines play in the grand scheme of it all.
Narcan, or naloxone, reverses the effects brought on by opioid-based drugs such as heroin and Percocet. It does not reverse those of benzos, therefore, when co-abuse occurs, the likelihood of revival decreases.
The use or abuse of benzodiazepines in conjunction with medically assisted treatment also has harmful effects.
Since most medications used in this form of “therapy” are opioid based drugs, the co-abuse of them with benzos mirror the same effects as mixing benzos with heroin, and therefore increasing the chance of overdose.
It is safe to say, given the numbers, that our country has a serious dilemma on its hands. People are dying every day from drug overdoses. If we do not get this under control soon, in a few years from now, we will see benzodiazepine overdose rates reach those of opioid numbers.
Although the stigma surrounding the disease is finally beginning to break, we are willing to bet lawmakers are wishing they were hastier in their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
How many times does history need to repeat itself? We need to break the cycle, and we need to do it now.
Clearbrook Offers Treatment For Benzodiazepine Abuse
If you or a loved one needs treatment for benzodiazepine abuse, Clearbrook can help you today. For over 4 decades, we have been effectively treating chemical dependency and alcoholism.
Contact our Admissions Specialists today and begin your intake process.