Deadly overdose deaths associated with prohibited “designer” benzodiazepines have surged in the US, as underground laboratories develop new synthetic alterations on prescription sedatives like Valium, Xanax, and Ativan.
As per statistics from 32 states and the District of Columbia, deaths from illicit benzodiazepines overdose were six times higher (520%) between 2019 and 2020, increasing from 51 to 316.
Fatal ODs From Illegal Tranquilizers Rise 6-Fold During Pandemic
These new synthetics are “as the same class and are structurally similar to permitted benzodiazepines, but they have clinical reactions,” said Alex Manini. The director of the Toxicology Research Center. According to Manini, these illegally manufactured drugs are more potent than prescribed benzodiazepines.
They are likely to increase the risk of addiction and overdose. Experts say the spread shows previous American occurrences with synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.
As the tranquilizer’s epidemic progressed, users have switched from prescription sedatives like OxyContin and Vicodin to cheaper, more potent, and illegal alternatives. “A growing number of synthetic benzodiazepines recorded worldwide, surpassing global reach,” said Pat Aussem, the vice president of clinical content development.
There is opioid in 93% of benzodiazepine overdose deaths, according to specifics collected in six months of 2020. In two-thirds of the time, illegal fentanyl is in association with benzos. Dr. Leigh Vinocur, a representative of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that opioids and benzodiazepines reduce a person’s respiratory rate, and the combination is likely to stop breathing.
When you consume the drugs at one time, it gets worse and you are more likely to overdose, says Vinocur. Manini points out that using a combination of the two tranquilizers also reduces the likelihood that a person will react to a drug that has the potential to reverse a drug overdose.
The existence of opioids and benzodiazepines lowers the usefulness of the reversal agent naloxone, he said. If you can’t undo a drug overdose, that’s a big deal. According to research, patients with an overdose combination did not react to naloxone most of the time.
The research focuses on illegal benzodiazepines. Often, emergency room doctors don’t even know benzos are involved in overdoses, Manini says. “It was surprising that these people had benzodiazepines,” he said. “There are reversing agents for benzodiazepine.
Unfortunately, individuals who use illegally produced drugs bought on the street may not be aware that they are taking a combination of opioids and benzodiazepines Aussem says they are generally not used as frequently as naloxone.” Dr. Teresa Amato, emergency medical director at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, said emotional turmoil caused by the development of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the increase in drug overdose deaths in the US.
“The reason for the increase is yet to be revealed, but there are concerns that this may be an effect of the corona outbreak,” said Amato. With the rise of illegitimate produced benzo, the black-market prescription drugs continue to play a role in overdose.
“For instance, a woman who was asked by a pharmaceutical company to get a prescription for Xanax with her doctor, even though she didn’t need it,” Aussem said.