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Drug Addiction, Facts About Addiction, Substance Abuse  |  March 03, 2016

One cannot pick up a newspaper, search an internet news service, or turn on the television without seeing news reports about the deadly epidemic of addiction to opioid painkillers and heroin in America.   It’s estimated that 25,000 lives are being lost each year in this country to this class of drugs.

Did you know that another class of drugs is killing at a high rate as well?

Benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines include drugs like Xanax and Valium – drugs commonly prescribed to treat panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia.

And they are causing close to 10,000 deaths from overdoses annually.

Researchers discovered some chilling facts when reviewing prescription drug and overdose data.  When looking at data from 1996 to 2013, the number of adults filling prescriptions for these drugs increased by 37% while the overdose rate shot up more than 500%.

What’s more – not only has the number of prescriptions risen – so have the number of pills per prescription.

It appears that benzodiazepines alone, benzodiazepines with alcohol, and benzodiazepines combined with opioid drugs are the common causes of death in these cases.

So are we just discovering the addictive nature of these drugs?

No.  Researchers and physicians have known of the risk since the 1980s.

By recent count – some 395,000 emergency room visits per year are associated with benzodiazepine use – and 95% of hospital admissions for benzodiazepines reported abusing other substances as well.   Over 20 million U.S. citizens over the age of 12 have reported misusing this class of drugs.

How can you spot a potential overdose on these drugs?  Here are some of the signs:

Benzodiazepine drug abuse is a very serious public health problem that must be addressed.  As a starting point, addiction specialists are calling for U.S. doctors to be far more judicious about prescribing these drugs.  The rising death toll they are causing can no longer be ignored.