Every day, almost 200 Americans die of a drug overdose, often involving opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines, a type of prescription sedative commonly prescribed for anxiety or to help with insomnia.” Benzodiazepines (also called “benzos”) include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), among others.
Polydrug use is correlated with psychiatric illnesses. As Emily Pond reported on Psychiatry Advisor, “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and antisocial personality disorder may increase the risk for co-occurring sedative use disorder (SUD) in patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). According to study data published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “Depressive disorders and schizotypal personality disorder also predicted co-occurring SUD and OUD among women alone.”
The Yale study found that “16.4 percent of those with an opioid use disorder (OUD) met criteria for sedative use disorder (SUD), that “antisocial PD and PTSD were associated with co-occurring SUD in both men and women,” and that “depressive symptoms and schizotypal PD were associated with co-occurring SUD in women.”
The researchers noted that “55.6 percent of the sample attained opioids through their own prescription. Of those with co-occurring sedative use disorder, 47.2 percent attained sedatives through their own prescription.” This is an indication that the overprescribing of addictive drugs is still a problem.
Despite widespread devastation caused by America’s opioid epidemic, an investigation by NPR found that doctors and other health care providers still prescribe highly addictive pain medications at rates widely considered unsafe. “Patients still receive more than twice the volume of opioids considered normal before the prescribing boom began in the late 1990s.”
“We’ve had an attitude about opioids that they are similar to antibiotics, where you can prescribe and forget,” Travis Rieder, a bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University told NPR.
This trend was also concerning to the Yale investigators, “Results of the present study highlight the importance of prescription monitoring, further research into gender-informed treatments, and implementation of treatments for substance use and co-occurring symptoms,” they wrote.
Treating substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions concurrently and effectively is essential. Recovery Ways is dually licensed to treat mental health and addiction. The highly qualified team at Recovery Ways includes two psychiatrists, an affiliated family doctor, and therapists with master’s degrees. “We’re taking care of some of the most complex psychiatric patients across the country,” explains Recovery Ways’ medical director, Duy Pham.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues, Recovery Ways wants to help. Our admissions coordinators can recommend a plan of action. Call 888.986.7848 to learn more.