A storm is brewing in the South Coast Massachusetts area where reports indicate a steady rise in the number of fatalities from the misuse and abuse of opiates and benzodiazepines. A previous study targeting this geographical area had reported a high rate of drug overdose deaths. Some drug users in the area have experimented by mixing or combining benzodiazepines and opiates.
Benzodiazepines, or Benzos, as commonly referred to in the streets, are known to be sedative-hypnotic drugs. Examples of Benzos include Ativan, Xanax, Valium and klonopin. These benzodiazepines are highly sought after by heroin users who have been also abusing them. Researchers from Stanford have warned of the high fatalities attributed to drug combinations of the two drugs. They have confirmed that at least 30% of all overdose deaths in South Coast is due to this deadly combination.
Today, the South Coast cities and towns face serious challenges from a perfect storm which has brought in a serious flood of illicit drugs. Unfortunately, a lot of the authorities in the area have centered all of their attention dealing with heroin and opiate drugs while overlooking the potential harm that benzos can inflict.
A combination of benzos and opiates can depress the heart and lung functions and result in death of the user. A recent study has revealed that the doctors and psychiatrists in South Coast are over-prescribing benzos for the management of insomnia and anxiety symptoms. Granted, benzos are safe when prescribed and dispensed correctly, they can become extremely deadly when abused.
However, care needs to be exercised when dispensing these addictive drugs. Experts have warned against over-prescription of benzos because of the fact that the drugs can cause physical dependence and in some cases increase anxiety among its users. Sadly, most doctors and psychiatrists disregard this advice and prescribe benzos without looking at the patient’s medical history.
A recent report by Gov. Charlie Baker on the state’s opioid epidemic has also overlooked the fatalities caused by benzos in the state. South Coast, which falls under Gov. Baker’s jurisdiction is a known benzo and opiate addiction hot spot. The Department of Health, which is mandated to safeguard the welfare and health of citizens, has sat on a formal report which had been launched calling for attention to be paid on South Coast’s benzo problem. Attention now shifts to the governor and DPH to see if they will act on the complaint and address benzo addiction in their area.