Of all the potential drug combinations (and there are many) mixing opiates and benzodiazepines together is one of the most lethal. Mixing prescription medications didn’t use to be as popular or prevalent as it is today – now, mixing medications is exceedingly common.
Some users will mix opioid painkillers (such as Oxycontin and Vicodin) with benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) in order to produce a powerful high. Unfortunately, this specific combination often has dire consequences. Mixing two potent substances greatly increases the risk of overdose, as well as other serious, life-threatening symptoms.
More About Opiate Addiction
Opioid painkillers bind with opioid receptors in the brain and work to interfere with pain signals that would otherwise be sent from the brain to the body. Other opiates work the same way – these include illicit substances, like heroin. In many instances, those who become addicted to heroin will begin by using and abusing prescription painkillers. Several years ago, painkillers were heavily prescribed and widely available.
During this time, prescription drug abuse rates skyrocketed. Overdose-related deaths continued to rise throughout the US, and the government eventually issued a national crackdown. Prescription opioids became more difficult to get, so those that were addicted transitioned to an affordable and readily available alternative – heroin. Still, the rates of prescription painkiller abuse today are exceptionally high.
Two of the most commonly abused prescription painkillers are Oxycontin and Vicodin. Oxycontin is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, seeing as it is so potent. It has an extremely high risk of dependence and addiction, and it has been known to cause fatal respiratory distress when mixed with other substances. Vicodin is a narcotic opioid that is also used to treat pain. It is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Like Oxycontin, this prescription can cause lethal symptoms when mixed with other drugs.
More About Benzodiazepine Abuse
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed by medical professionals to treat anxiety-related disorders. They can also be prescribed for alcohol withdrawal (common in detox), seizures, or muscle spasms. Benzodiazepines directly affect the central nervous system, sending messages to the muscles and instructing them to relax. Both of the most frequently prescribed benzos (as the type of drug is more commonly called) – Valium and Xanax – are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, though Valium may also be prescribed to treat seizures.
Nowadays, young adults tend to consider Xanax a “party drug” – it is commonly used in combination with other substances at social events. This is due in large part to its widespread accessibility. Sadly, many benzodiazepines have been deemed “date rape” drugs and used in conjunction with sexual assault. They greatly impair basic functioning and lead to black-out and overdose when mixed with alcohol or opiates.
Seeking Help for Drug Addiction
Mixing drugs of any kind can prove to be lethal, but mixing opiates and benzos are especially dangerous. Not only is mixing the two dangerous but because each has such a high risk of dependency, combining the drugs increases these odds. Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, a lack of coordination, physical weakness, difficulty breathing, respiratory depression, coma, and fatal overdose. If you have experienced any of the above side effects, or if you have a personal history of mixing opiates and benzos, it is crucial that you seek professional help immediately.
While it may seem extreme, the risk of physical harm is so significant that failing to seek treatment could result in lifelong consequences. We at Recreate Life Counseling know that addiction runs a lot deeper than physical consequences, however. We believe that in order to be successful, treatment must involve emotional and psychological healing as well. Our comprehensive program covers all ground, so that you can begin living the happy, fulfilled, drug-free life that you deserve to live.