As the opiate epidemic sweeps America, the focus is on addressing this contagion. However, here is a surprising statistic that will surely astound even seasoned professionals involved in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. According to recently revised data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) deaths from benzodiazepine overdose rose at a greater rate in the 2001-2014 period as compared to deaths from opiate overdose (prescription pain pills + heroin). The concomitant (simultaneous) use of benzodiazepines and opiates is also rising rapidly. While the absolute number of deaths from benzodiazepine overdose is far lower than those from opiates, the trend will likely create a drug pandemic as it will render public policy initiatives far less effective, complicate the medical detoxification process and make recovery much harder for individuals abusing opiates and benzodiazepines simultaneously.
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