How Many People Overdose on Benzos in the Us Each Year?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines. In the same report, NIDA indicated between 1996 and 2013 benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by 67%. In 2015 23% of the people who died from an opioid overdose tested positive for benzodiazepines. It is common in the United States to be prescribed both opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines. The growing use of anti-anxiety medications has reminded some doctors of the early days of the opioid crisis. Benzodiazepines have been prescribed to millions of Americans for decades. However, since the 1990's the average length of time Americans take them has shot up.
State and federal officials across the country have been warning about the excessive prescribing. This has been placing more people at risk for dependency and overdose. When benzodiazepines are taken in combination with opioids or alcohol it increases the likelihood of overdose. The individuals who even stop taking benzo's abruptly risk seizures or even death. Per the New England Journal of Medicine, the rate of combined prescriptions doubled between 2001 and 2013. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports benzodiazepine deaths increased four-fold from 2002 to 2015. Brand names such as Valium and Xanax were involved in 30% of the deaths.
Some parts of the country saw the prevalence of Xanax showing up in autopsy reports increase. In 2016 the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about combining opioids and benzodiazepines. Fortunately, many doctors stopped prescribing both at the same time but the problems persist. Over-prescription is an issue throughout the country. Overdose deaths occur every day involving benzodiazepines and other drugs. Benzodiazepines can easily be purchased online through black market websites. More young people are impacted by these drugs because of finding them in their parent's medicine cabinet.