Benzodiazepines + Prescription Opioids = Caution Needed: Study

April 20th, 2017

Benzodiazepines may be prescribed for patients coping with severe anxiety, panic disorder, or sleep problems; prescription opioids can help relieve severe pain. When prescribed appropriately and with sufficient monitoring, either medication is relatively safe, especially for short-term use.

Dual therapy – an opioid plus a benzodiazepine – introduces much greater risk to the patient. Careful weighing of risk/benefit profile and monitoring are critical. Both medications can cause respiratory depression, and the combined respiratory effects can lead to serious problems; overdose, even death. Yet, according to the authors of the study, dual prescribing is becoming increasingly common.

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