Killing Pain: Benzo ‘Boost’ Can Be Deadly

See on Scoop.itAddictions and Mental Health

Adding a benzodiazepine to an opioid painkiller can increase the effect of the opioid, or in the language of addiction, benzos can boost the high — but the combo can be deadly…”

Barbara Wood, Ph.D. / Author of Children of Alcoholism and Raising Healthy Children in an Alcoholic Home‘s insight:

This article, posted on Medpage Today, reports that examination of prescription records indicates that “as use of opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin soared in the 2000s, so did the use of “benzos” such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan, as opioid users discovered tranquilizers could enhance “the high.”. Moreover, according to the CDC the combination of opiods and benzodiazapenes was implicated in 30% of the 16,651 overdose deaths involving narcotic painkillers in 2010 (the most recent data available). Also, notably:

  • A 2013 paper in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that between 2005 and 2009 the combination was the most common cause of overdose deaths involving multiple drugs.
  • Also in 2013, a paper in Journal of Forensic Sciences found substantial co-use of opioids and benzodiazepines among pregnant or recently pregnant mothers in Florida between 1999 and 2005.

The author of the article, John Fauber notes that the “The U.S. has long loved its tranquilizers, and the recent growth in the use of newer drugs parallels that of old staples like Miltown (meprobamate) in the late 1950s and early 1960s and Librium and Valium in the 1960s and 1970s.”  He explains tthat the resurgence of this class of drugs in not the result of good science showing benefits from them, but instead, stems from  drug company marketing that has touted the use of benzos for a range of disorders including cardiovascular disease and ulcers and pain.  He also notes that primary care physicians who write prescriptions for these drugs are often doing so without having the time to carefully monitor patients’ responses to them.

Fauber points out that marketing of tranquilizers frequently targets women and that the drugs are prescribed twice as often for them. 

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