Tension in the air –

Dec. 24, 2019 – Benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin have been traditionally prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, but doctors have started handing them out as substitute for opioids, Calello said.

“As a nation, we’re trying to cut down more and more on opioid prescribing,” Calello said. “Medications like this may be a substitute and may be more available.”

She and her colleagues found nearly 297,000 benzodiazepine cases reported to U.S. poison control centers between 2000 and 2015. The proportion of cases rose from 17.7 per 100,000 children in 2000 to a high of 29.3 per 100,000 in 2009. In 2015, it stood at 27.3 per 100,000. Nearly half of these overdoses occur in kids who have intentionally taken the drugs, either to get high or to attempt suicide, the data showed.

The proportion of intentional exposure cases increased to about 48% in 2015, compared with 36% in 2010, researchers found. Meanwhile, cases of accidental ingestion decreased from 61% in 2010 to 50% in 2015. The health outcomes of benzodiazepine overdose also have become more severe over the years. Only a handful of kids die from benzodiazepine overdose. For example, 23 died in 2015. But the percentage that suffer severe illness from their overdose increased to 24% in 2015, up from 14% in 2000. One reason for this is 4 of 5 teenagers take benzodiazepines with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids, according to the data.

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