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Doctors worry that the usage of anti-anxiety pills will become the new opioid epidemic. Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” used to be considered safe, and many doctors prescribed them to many Americans for decades. However, since the 1990s, the number of users increased exponentially. 

Some examples of these drugs include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin. These help patients ease their nerves. When they’re taken with painkillers, the drug can potentially cause fatal overdoses. Alone, the benzodiazepines may cause addiction. 

Due to the increasing risks, federal and state officials now warn patients about how the drug can cause dependency and can lead to higher risks when taken with other drugs. Certain local governments are starting to restrict benzodiazepine prescriptions. 

Officials also warned that those users who suddenly stop taking their prescription could have a seizure or death. This alarms official, who now want the public to be aware of what benzos could actually do. 

Dr. Anna Lembke, an addiction specialist at Stanford University, said, 

We have this whole infrastructure set up now to prevent overprescribing of opioids and address the need for addiction treatment. We need to start making benzos part of that. “What we’re seeing is just like what happened with opioids in the 1990s. It really does begin with overprescribing.”

THE NUMBER OF ADULTS USING BENZOS QUADRUPLED

The number of adults using benzos increased from eight million to fourteen million, between 1996 and 2013, according to data in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals that between 2002 and 2015, fatal benzodiazepines overdoses quadrupled. 

While psychiatrists believe that inexpensive benzos could help relieve acute cases of anxiety, they should not be used for long-term problems.