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These Pills Could Be Next U.S. Drug Epidemic, Public Health Officials Say

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Shep
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These Pills Could Be Next U.S. Drug Epidemic, Public Health Officials Say

July 18, 2018

By: Christine Vestal

 

Some key findings:

 

  • When taken in combination with painkillers or illicit narcotics, benzodiazepines can increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose as much as tenfold, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. On their own, the medications can cause debilitating withdrawal symptoms that last for months or years.
     
  • With heightened public awareness of the nation’s opioid epidemic, some state and local officials are insisting that these anti-anxiety medications start sharing some of the scrutiny.
     
  • “What we’re seeing is just like what happened with opioids in the 1990s,” she said. “It really does begin with overprescribing. Liberal therapeutic use of drugs in a medical setting tends to normalize their use. People start to think they’re safe and, because they make them feel good, it doesn’t matter where they get them or how many they use.”
     
  • The number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased by two-thirds between 1996 and 2013, from 8 million to nearly 14 million, according to a review of market data by Lembke and others in the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the known dangers of co-prescribing painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, the rate of combined prescriptions nearly doubled between 2001 and 2013.
     
  • But a newly formed group of researchers and pharmacologists, the International Task Force on Benzodiazepines, wrote in an editorial that recent negative publicity has made it difficult for many doctors around the world to prescribe medications they consider essential.
     
  • In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the dangers of combining opioids and benzodiazepines. That prompted many doctors to force patients to choose one drug over the other without warning them about the potential symptoms of withdrawal such as seizures or even death, Huff said.
     
  • The benzo task force wrote in its editorial that it was developing research that it hoped would support preserving the drugs as a valuable part of the medical arsenal.

 

Seems like this article may actually be in response to the International Task Force on Benzodiazepines' recent work. For more on that group, see: 

 

International Task Force on Benzodiazepines 2018.

 

 

Edited by Shep
fixed spacing

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Martina23

This "smells " more like an article written for the needs of big pharma

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Altostrata

I doubt it. Benzos in combination with pain drugs are dangerous. Plus, we know they're truly addictive.

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AwareButStruggling

I agree. Unlike opioids, I think that benzos are not universally understood to be addictive. There is a good number of doctors who don't believe them to be truly addictive. "It's only addictive when you become addicted" is how most of the world seems to operate when it comes to benzos. I think most people want to believe that these pills will come to their rescue when needed without adversely affecting them. It's very hard to let go of that belief. I've always thought of opiates as being obviously addictive and benzos being sneakily addictive. Personally, I don't think anything touches the soulless, disabling and flat-out dangerous misery of a benzo withdrawal, but that's just my personal experience.

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