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Cases of Common Sedative Abuse Causing Fatal Overdose Surges According to New Study

Sedative abuse causing fatal overdoseNews headlines are full of fatal overdose stories about opioid pain medications, but medical professionals and law enforcement agencies are reporting a big surge in deaths caused by common sedative abuse recently as well according to a recent study. Albert Einstein College of Medicine assistant professor of medicine Marcus Bachhuber, M.D., MS., who was also the lead study author, commented on the sudy findings and said “We found that the death rate from overdoses involving benzodiazepines, also known as ‘benzos,’ has increased more than four-fold since 1996 — a public health problem that has gone under the radar. Overdoses from benzodiazepines have increased at a much faster rate than prescriptions for the drugs, indicating that people have been taking them in a riskier way over time.”

Typical drugs involved in sedative abuse that leads t a fatal overdose include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. The study researchers determined that the rate of deaths associated with the most common sedatives has increased to 4 times what it was in the past. These drugs may be prescribed for insomnia, stress, mood disorders, and certain mental disorders. Experts have found that 1 in 20 adults in the USA will fill a prescription for a benzodiazepene sedative in any given year. 23,000 people in the USA dies in 2013 from a fatal drug overdose, and 31 percent of these deaths were from sedative abuse and not narcotic pain medications or illegal street drugs like heroin. Albert Einstein College of Medicine associate professor of medicine and senior study author Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., explained “The greater quantity of benzodiazepines prescribed to patients — more than doubling over the time period — suggests a higher daily dose or more days of treatment, either of which could increase the risk of fatal overdose. People at high risk for fatal overdose may be obtaining diverted benzodiazepines — not from medical providers — and we know that combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or drugs — including opioid painkillers — can lead to fatal overdoses.”

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