Although opioids are the main focus of the nation’s health crisis, other dangerous prescription drugs are also causing high rates of addictions. Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium and Ativan are designed to help ease anxiety but the effects that they have on body and mind can be incredibly addictive. Physicians have been prescribing more and more of these kinds of drugs to patients, unaware that they are dangerous and harmful.
A recent article revealed that the amount of Benzos prescribed in the past 17 years has increased by 300 percent and deaths from these drugs went up 8 fold in the past decade. These alarming statistics have not received as much attention as issues with opioids which have been causing high rates of overdose. But Benzos can cause people to become addicted within a weeks or months and abuse can quickly lead to fatal overdose.
Experts are concerned that the level of Benzo abuse and its rapid growth could potentially lead to another health crisis. Studies show that people in the U.S. are actually more likely to die from a psychiatric drug overdose than a heroin overdose. As the number of prescriptions for Benzos continues to skyrocket, it has some people in the field of mental health and addiction concerned about the repercussions of using these drugs.
There are even new, highly potent forms of benzodiazepines that are reaching the illicit market and may cause the same types of issues as the opioid fentanyl. Addiction to prescription benzos can often lead people to seek stronger versions on the street in the same way prescription opioids can lead to heroin use. As addiction escalates, people can start using benzos in dangerous and even fatal amounts.
Increasing education about the dangers of benzos may help curb some of the rising abuse but it is important for physicians to be cautious about when and how often they prescribe these dangerous drugs.