By Indra Cidambi MD 06/09/16

Deaths from benzodiazepine overdose have grown at a faster rate than deaths from opiate overdose each year for thirteen consecutive years.

What can we do now to arrest or reverse this trend?

 In thinking about the current opioid overdose epidemic, most people think of opioid users and misusers as people singularly involved with opioids. In fact, many opioid users also use other drugs, and many opioid overdoses actually result from the over-ingestion of several drugs, often including benzodiazapines, which may be either prescribed by a health care provider or obtained illegally. Compounding the problem is that fact that detox from benzodiazapines is a complicated and often difficult process. Dr. Indra Cidambi teases apart the myriad issues that are involved in extricating users from both substances and calls for the kind of systemic change that will be needed in order for the U.S. to make progress in preventing future overdose deaths…Richard Juman, PsyD

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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