Dangers of Using Benzodiazepines with Opiates

Posted in Treatment

Drug overdoses are a tragically common cause of death. Celebrities including Heath Ledger and Judy Garland have overdosed as a result of prescription medication misuse, and increased overdose risk is what makes the combination of benzodiazepines and opiates dangerous.

Opiates are narcotics that derive from opium and are typically used to relieve extreme pain. Benzodiazepines are sold in name-brand forms like Xanax and Klonopin and are used to assist with anxiety issues. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Services for Central Ohio reports that opiate drugs Percocet and Vicodin are often taken in conjunction with benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. These are just a few potential combinations of the two types of drugs.

Why Combining Opiates and Benzodiazepines Is Risky

Benzodiazepines alone accounted for over 300 deaths in 2010 according to the Department of Health, and related drugs were detected in almost 20 percent of overdose victims that year. Those who abuse benzodiazepines are also often the ones who abuse opiates. It can be deadly to take them at the same time. Many people combine them regardless of risk, because using them together ups the feeling of euphoria that is caused by opiates. However both drugs are sedatives, and any combination of sedatives increases the depressant effects on the body and can lead to fatally slow breathing rates or heart rates. Slowed heart rate, respiration rate and breathing rate are all potential, and potentially fatal, side effects of combining the two types of drugs.

Sometimes relieving pain and anxiety issues simultaneously is necessary. Experienced physicians are aware of the risks of combining drugs and can help their patients find alternative treatment options. Acupuncture, yoga, relaxation and exercise are all potential options for effective pain management. Many of these activities can help with anxiety problems as well.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to benzodiazepines, opiates or both, immediate medical care and addiction recovery support is necessary. Only medical professionals can provide the help you need to treat these issues.

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