As an Orange County Detox center, Experience Recovery focuses a lot of our research and services on the specific problems our communities are facing. One of the fastest growing epidemics in addiction is in prescription drugs, such as opiates and benzodiazepines. The availability and legality of these drugs, coupled with their immense potency, makes them both highly addictive and very prone to causing an overdose.
According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, nearly 700 residents are killed by overdose or poisoning each year, and over 5,500 are hospitalized. In total, residents spend 70,000 days in hospital bed rest due to overdose. Of these overdoses, the research has shown that an overwhelming majority (78.6%) were accidental, and over half were from prescription medication.
Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin, are all popular prescriptions medications, often referred to as “benzos.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2013, 13.5 million Americans filled a prescription for benzodiazepines. This is a 67% increase from 1996.
These drugs are used as sedatives to relax muscles and ease convulsions and seizures. They can also help with some anxiety disorders or a sleeping aid in cases of insomnia. In general, these drugs are depressants used to lower over-activity in the body. Because of this, the risks in taking these medications can include
Because benzos are depressants, they hold a similar risk of overdose to other depressants. The most dangerous side-effects are when the lungs experience lowered function, shortening breathing. In these cases, users may feel tired, sleepy, or faint. Without immediate medical intervention, suffocation can occur.
Benzodiazepines are most dangerous in combination with other depressants, such as opiates or alcohol. Because these drugs work in a similar way, their effects double up on each other, increasing the risk for overdose. According to the CDC, in 2015 nearly a quarter of all opioid overdoses also tested positive for a benzodiazepine. In a similar Canadian study, nearly 60% of overdoses for people taking opiates for “noncancer” pain also tested positive for benzodiazepines.
There have been a number of frightening reports about the proliferation of prescription drug use, not just in urban areas, but even in rural communities. Urban cities can be prone to illicit drug trades, and “street” versions of drugs concocted in private labs, but rural communities can be just as vulnerable to prescription drugs. Because many rural doctors have to travel long distances per patient, and may not have reliable access to systems and technology, it becomes easy for patients to abuse the system, reaching out to multiple doctors to secure different prescriptions. In unprecedented scandals, some rural communities where shipping in millions of orders of prescription opiates in towns that had 4-digit populations.
As fatalities from both of these drugs are on the rise, it’s important that we understand the signs, symptoms, and risks of overdose, and how our own communities are vulnerable. While Orange County Detox centers like Experience Recovery specialize in dealing with community care, it’s ultimately up to the patients and their families to seek medical intervention when needed. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction or dependency, call us immediately at (619) 639-7325.
If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, Experience Recovery can help. Our admissions line is open 24/7.