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Opioids and Benzos: A Common and Dangerous Combination

Many people who use opioids also take benzodiazepines. Opioids and benzos are two of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs for pain management and anxiety disorders. They are both drugs that can be highly addictive and, when misused, challenging to quit. In addition, both drugs can cause a person to lose inhibitions and feel “relaxed.” The more a person uses, the more uncomfortable the withdrawal symptoms can be. Addiction to either opioids or benzodiazepine class drugs can be intense and cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Why Do People Take Opioids and Benzos Together?

There are many reasons a person might take opioids and Benzos together. Both are commonly prescribed, and a person may have a prescription for both. A person may take both as prescriptions and obtain one on the illicit market. Both classes of drugs can be prescribed together to manage pain and anxiety. Opioids are effective at relieving pain but can also cause anxiety and restlessness. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but they can also have a sedative effect.

Some people may take the drugs together to self-medicate. For example, people who struggle with chronic pain or anxiety may feel that their prescribed medication is not providing adequate relief. As a result, they may think they need to increase their dosage to achieve the desired effect.

Or they may want to use these drugs recreationally. Unfortunately, this can lead to a dangerous cycle of drug use, as individuals may increasingly rely on opioids and benzodiazepines to manage their symptoms. In addition, cravings and withdrawal symptoms may be magnified because of the combination.

The Dangers of Using Opioids and Benzos Together

Opioids and benzos may be prescribed together but are unsafe when taken at higher doses. Combining these two drugs can be hazardous and potentially life-threatening. They are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which slow down the brain's activity and other parts of the nervous system. Together, they can cause a magnified effect, leading to severe respiratory depression, coma, and death. In fact, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, people who combined opioids and benzodiazepines had a 10-fold increase in overdose risk compared to those who only used opioids.

Both classes of drugs can be highly addictive. Using them together is a gamble.

People who are misusing benzos may accidentally end up taking them together. Fentanyl is a ubiquitous drug; it’s been found everywhere in the US. Some people who use both drugs may not even know they are using fentanyl. Fentanyl is the number one drug involved in overdose deaths; however, it is often a contaminant. People buy pills on apps or get them from people they know without realizing that there are a few grains of fentanyl in them. For people with little to no tolerance for opioids, this can be deadly.

Regardless of why people combine opioids and benzodiazepines, it can lead to substance use disorder. There are many dangers when misusing either drug long-term. Using multiple drugs together is a dangerous practice. Addiction is a dead-end road. If you or somebody you love is misusing substances of any kind, they may have a substance use disorder. This brain disease makes people more susceptible to the harm caused by long-term drug use.

Getting Help for Substance Use Disorder

If you misuse opioids, benzodiazepines, or other drugs recreationally, it can be hard to quit on your own. If you or somebody you love is misusing substances or feels like their substance use is out of control, you may be living with substance use disorder. Drugs can change the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. People with substance use disorder often experience harm from their addiction. This can include health, relationship, legal, and financial losses. It can feel overwhelming, but there’s help available. People with addiction can get sober and live long, healthy lives in recovery.

There’s a way out. Learn more about how we can help you begin to reclaim your life in a serene, compassionate, safe, and healing environment. Call us at US: (949) 279-1376 or MX: (612) 153-5726 to learn more about your options.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.