The opioid crisis is raging in the United States at the moment. And if opiate addictions and overdoses were not enough, now new prescription drugs are being added to the list of lethal substances.
Benzodiazepines abuse is nothing new in America. Valium and Xanax are the two most often abused prescription drugs in the country. The two anxiety and insomnia drugs are often mixed with alcohol and opioids, creating a potentially lethal combination.
The rise in the number of deaths caused by this combination of substances is staggering. In 1999, 0.5 per 100,000 deaths were caused by the abuse of “benzos” among middle-aged women. Now, that number rose to five per 100,000 in 2017 a study from January 11 has revealed. That is an increase of more than 800 percent.
Just in 2016 alone, 10,684 people died from benzodiazepine abuse. In 1999 that number was 1,135.
When combining the benzodiazepines with opioids, people often fall asleep and never wake up. The big issue is that benzodiazepines and opioids are usually prescribed together. The latest surveys show they are responsible for 75 percent of all overdose-related deaths.
Unfortunately, this growing trend has not halted the rise in the number of prescriptions for those substances being issued. In 1996, the number of prescriptions handed to adults was 81. million, while in 2013 that number rose to 13.5 million. That is a 67 percent increase.
Benzodiazepines affect the part of the brain that triggers a calming effect in the body. The drugs help with the spreading of chemical, and they also work quickly and effectively.
The reduction in overprescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines is crucial if authorities want to lower the number of fatalities caused by these substances. Better education of the end-user is also vital.
Also, there are safer alternatives for treating insomnia and anxiety. Opioids and benzodiazepines are better suited for use in extreme cases.