On their own, narcotic pain medications can be highly addictive; when used in combination with the medication benzodiazepine it becomes worse. Reports say the numbers of people seeking addiction treatment for these medications have grown exponentially – more than 560 percent during between 2000 and 2010.
Additionally, the age span of people seeking help for addiction to the medications has reflected a wider span, starting with individuals 12 years of age. Working with individuals who have dual addictions requires high-level training and new options in communities, say experts. Results from a recent study indicated that more than one-third of people with these dual addictions started abusing both substances during the same twelve-month period.
Also a factor are reports stating that nearly 50 percent had a preexisting mental illness or psychiatric problem in addiction to their addiction. From a demographics perspective, more than 90 percent of the people admitted for addiction treatment of simultaneous benzodiazepine and narcotic pain medication addictions were Caucasian. Nearly half were women, and the majority fell into the age bracket of 18 years to their mid-30s.
Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are depressants acting on the central nervous system. They are typically prescribed for insomnia, anxiety problems and chronic pain such as back pain. Common symptoms of usage include tiredness, muscle relaxation and mood shifts. Side effects can include heightened anxiety, extreme perspiration and feelings of nervousness.
Given the numbers, experts have said that additional focus is needed on providing treatment resources for these individuals, as well as helping health professionals understand clearly the risks and addiction factors associated with opioid pain medications and drugs in the class of benzodiazepines.
Entities like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the International Nurses Society on Addictions and the American Psychiatric Association are among numerous groups getting more involved in addressing prescription medication addictions. Report results can be viewed online through SAMHSA.