Concurrent use of opioids and anti-anxiety medications significantly increases risk of overdose

Patients who use anti-anxiety medications in tandem with opioids are much more likely to overdose compared to patients solely using opioids, according to a recent study published in The BMJ.

Researchers examined health data on 315,428 privately insured individuals with continuous coverage from 2001 to 2013 who filled at least one opioid prescription. The results revealed patients taking both opioid pain medication and benzodiazepine — commonly referred to by the brand names Xanax and Valium — were twice as likely to visit an emergency room or be hospitalized for opioid overdose compared to patients taking opioids alone.

"From a clinical perspective, providers should exercise caution in prescribing opioids for patients who are already using benzodiazepines (or vice versa), even in a non-chronic setting," the study's authors noted. "From a policy perspective, in addition to the current focus on opioid prescribing, policymakers and healthcare systems should also focus on benzodiazepine prescribing behaviors, as these behaviors can play an important role in mitigating the risks of opioid prescriptions."

More articles on opioids: 
Ohio launches $3.5M program to help children of opioid addicts 
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Physicians weigh ethics of expensive surgery for opioid addicts

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