There are some drugs that most people relate to overdose or “bad drugs,” such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. But it is the prescribed opiate medications that are most responsible for overdoses and increasing issues with heroin use.
But they are legal prescriptions, right?
Here’s the thing with prescription drugs: there are certain combinations that counteract each other and increase their intensity. Many people are dying of overdoses because they are not aware of issue.
The deadliest mixture is methadone and benzodiazepines. The death rate from this combination has increased four-fold since 1999 according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control). The most popular benzodiazepines among addicts are alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium). These medications are prescribed most often for anxiety issues. Methadone is used to treat for pain (pill form), addiction issues or withdrawal symptoms (liquid form). Liquid methadone is federally regulated and most commonly prescribed to addicts. A patient must travel daily to get their “dose” at a clinic until they prove trustworthy enough to deserve “take homes.” Trust is earned through clean urine screenings and attendance at counseling sessions.
So why is this combination so lethal? Both medications are sedatives that depress both the respiratory system and cardiovascular rhythms. This means that breathing can become labored and the heart rate slows. This doesn’t generally present an issue if taken at the prescribed dose. If more than the prescribed dosages are taken, which happens often with addicts, both the heart and breathing can stop.
This is one of the drug addict world’s best kept secrets, and one of our most impressive scams. If they are both legally prescribed, that justifies us taking them. Another justification is that if a doctor prescribed both of these medications for me then I must need them…and how dare anyone try to tell me differently!
This was my ploy back in 2008 after a lengthy heroin addiction that kept getting me into trouble with the law and my family. I entered a methadone clinic and then obtained a prescription for Xanax. I terribly abused both of these drugs. The two years that followed are nothing but a fog to me now, as benzos can cause blackouts. It all ended with a prison sentence and many accounts of my erratic, reckless behavior. This was the worst I had ever been. I overdosed more times than I can remember, only to be saved by Narcan, a prescription drug that blocks opiate receptors and reverses an overdose.
Don’t just take my word on this subject. Please do the research before this becomes a problem for you or a loved one. There are not always second chances. I experienced this in the fall of 2016, when my son’s father died from a lethal mixture of Ativan and Methadone.
His death was not unique or unusual. I have heard these stories far too many times. Many recovery advocates have begun to add this warning in their speeches because it is becoming so prevalent. The last solid statistics we have on these deaths are from 2009. I believe the numbers have likely doubled since then, similar to all opiate-related issues.
If you are on methadone, do not indulge in benzos (or vice versa). If you must be prescribed both due to addiction and anxiety issues, give your prescription to someone you trust to manage and distribute to you properly. Your short-term pleasure by abusing these prescriptions means nothing next to the pain your family will feel when you are gone.