Painkiller addiction is a well-known phenomenon across the United States, but a new and alarming trend in drug dependence is starting to make an appearance as well: the non-medical abuse of both narcotic pain medication and benzodiazepines in combination. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of patients seeking treatment for the abuse of both types of prescription drugs increased by more than 569 percent. In the same period, treatment admissions for the abuse of or dependence upon other substances dropped by almost 10 percent.
The primary goal of drug users? To utilize benzodiazepines that augment the effects of narcotic pain relievers taken medically or non-medically.
The result? Addiction, overdose, accident, and/or death.
Tough to Treat: Combo Drug Addicts
According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Report issued December 13 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), those who are addicted to both benzos and painkillers are a “treatment-resistant” group as compared to those who enter treatment with a primary dependence upon just one substance of abuse. They experience:
These rates are higher in this population than among those who abuse painkillers alone due in part to the fact that withdrawal symptoms are harsh for those who attempt to stop using benzodiazepines without the added complication of opiate addiction.
Combo Drug Abusers
Who is more likely to be dependent upon both painkillers and benzos? The TEDS study reported the following characteristics commonly found among the population of “combo” drug users:
- From the southern United States
- Living with a co-occurring mental health disorder
- Between the ages of 18 and 34
- More likely to come to treatment of their own accord (as opposed to being remanded to treatment by the court system)
- Daily drug users
This group is equally made up of men and women. There are a number of people who are Hispanic or African American and abuse both types of drugs, but this is less common as compared to groups of drug users who prefer other illicit substances.
Treatment Changes Lives
Though this is identified as a “treatment-resistant” problem, it is still an issue that can be positively impacted by intensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Because so many patients also struggle with a psychiatric disorder, the chances of successful recovery significantly increase when they choose a drug rehab that offers an equal emphasis on mental health treatment.
If you are in search of an effective addiction treatment program for your loved one living with a dual drug dependence upon opiates and benzodiazepines, call the number above to speak to an admissions coordinator about the best options available in rehabilitation and treatment today.