Opioids and Benzodiazepines
As most Americans are aware, overprescribing opioids has become a national epidemic over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control, two-thirds of all drug overdose cases involve an opioid, and opiate-related overdoses killed more than 47,000 people in 2017.
However, fewer people recognize how dramatically benzodiazepine prescriptions have increased within that same period, and that doctors frequently prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines like Ativan, Valium and Xanax together. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.
People who have developed an opioid addiction rarely turn down the chance to take sedatives, even when they are fully aware of how risky it is to combine these drugs. Benzodiazepines magnify the effects of opioid painkillers, giving this drug combination a high potential for abuse. Over-sedation is one of the most significant problems of mixing opioids with benzodiazepines. The inability to wake up or respond to stimuli can put people at risk of falling, causing a car accident or entering a coma.