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Mixing Opioids and Xanax Can Have Deadly Results

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Officials are reporting that deaths tied to the use of drugs like Xanax and opiates are growing at an alarming rate.

The Chicago Tribune recently published an article looking into the effects of mixing opioids with benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Over the past three years, officials in Cook County stated that deaths tied to this drug cocktail have increased by nearly 200 percent, up from 123 in 2015 to 333 in 2017. Despite the growing number of deaths tied to these types of drugs, medical professionals are seeing a dramatic spike in their use.

“This has taken the place of ecstasy in the party culture for some people,” said Karen Wolownik Albert, executive director of Gateway’s Lake County services. “Because it’s a prescription drug, people can rationalize it. It doesn’t fit into people’s concept of what drug abuse looks like.”
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to people suffering from sleep or anxiety disorders, but can also inhibit breathing. On their own, these drugs’ side effects are potentially dangerous, but when mixed with opioids, which can have the same effect, the danger can increase exponentially.

Over the past 20 years, the number of people prescribed both types of medications have gone up significantly, and some experts believe that many patients dealing with chronic pain can also deal with sleep and anxiety disorders, and because they may see multiple doctors for different issues, they could be prescribed both.

“A lot of physicians don’t have time to review these (medication) profiles,” said Megan Ehret, president-elect of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists.”
While people who legally take both types of drugs make up part of this issue, benzodiazepines can be incredibly cheap, and are often used by partygoers to enhance their nights out. It doesn’t help that many artists, including Future, Eminem, and Lil Peep, who died after taking Xanax and fentanyl last November, mention these drugs in their lyrics. However, knowledge of the dangers of these types of drugs have become so widespread that even some of the artists who previously touted their effects are souring on their use.

“I really don’t agree with glorifying the drug at this point, especially in light of Lil Peep’s death,” Lil Xan, whose stage name is based off one of the brand name benzodiazepines, told MTV last month. “… I was already doing the anti-Xan thing, but you just gotta get off that stuff, man. It’s not good for you.”
Mixing drugs can be incredibly dangerous, especially when the drugs included in the cocktail are incredibly addicting. At The PAC Program, we are dedicated to helping young men struggling with addiction break free and regain control of their lives on their own terms.