“Opioid overdose deaths are at a record high in the U.S., and deaths from prescription painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, are implicated in almost half of all cases. Less well known is the fact that benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, prescription tranquilizers used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures, are involved in about 30 percent of those prescription opioid deaths, perhaps due to deadly interactions.
Even though it’s well known that opioids and benzodiazepines can have potentially dangerous interactions when taken together, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against taking both at the same time, a new analysis by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine shows that doctors are prescribing them together at increasing rates. In 2001, 9 percent of opioid users also filled prescriptions for benzodiazepines, and that increased to 17 percent in 2013.
If doctors can stop prescribing both drugs at the same time, the U.S. will see at least a 15 percent reduction of overdoses that result in hospitalization, according to the Stanford study, and this applies to people who use opioids long term or occasionally.”
Source: HuffingtonPost.com – March 15