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Friday, May 23, 2014

Sedatives Send Thousands to Emergency Rooms

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When people think of the prescription drug crisis in America they typically associate the problem with prescription opioids. While that is an accurate appraisal, there are however other drugs that are highly addictive, life threatening, and coveted among addicts. It is not often that you hear about sedatives (benzodiazepines) which are one of the facets to the multi pronged prescription drug problem plaguing this country. In fact, a new government report has found that more than 123,000 people ended up in hospital emergency rooms in 2011 after misusing alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax.

The report indicates that the number of ER visits associated with Xanax more than doubled since 2005, according to USA Today. What’s more, Xanax (Alprazolam), used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia, was the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug in 2011, the article points out.

Alprazolam is a powerful sedative that, when misused, often results in physical dependence, causing life threatening withdrawal symptoms, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) news release. The real danger occurs when people mix benzodiazepines like alprazolam with alcohol or other central nervous system depressant drugs, such as opioids. Addicts will commonly mix Xanax with painkillers in order to enhance their high, but taking too much has led to a number of deaths.

In fact, patients used alprazolam together with other prescription drugs or alcohol in 81 percent of cases SAMHSA looked at.

“When used as directed, alprazolam is safe and effective, but misuse can result in serious health consequences,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “This report highlights the need to educate people about the dangers of misusing or sharing prescription medications and the importance of properly disposing of unused medication.”

SAMHSA reported that more than 1.2 million people went to the emergency room for prescription drug abuse in 2011.
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