Benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos” for short, are sedatives that are primarily prescribed to treat anxiety and sleeplessness. Dr Anna Lembke, chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University Medical Centre, stated that “complications from benzos, such as dependency and addiction, are fuelling a hidden epidemic similar to the opioid crisis.” She also highlighted that medical students, residents and even doctors in practice don’t recognise the addictive potential of benzodiazepines. There’s been all this awareness on opioids but very little focus on benzodiazepines and yet people are dying from them.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved benzodiazepines for a range of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and acute alcohol withdrawal. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who were prescribed a benzodiazepine increased 67%, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million and the quantity of benzodiazepines they obtained more than tripled during that period, from 1.1kg to 3.6kg per 100,000 adults. From 1991 to 2015, overdose deaths from these drugs rose from 1135 to 8791, according to reports. Despite this trend, overuse, misuse and addiction of benzos largely goes unnoticed.
Due to the increasing rate of benzo abuse, highly potent new forms of the drug are becoming more common on the illicit market. These drugs are indistinguishable from prescription benzodiazepines and are potentially as deadly as the synthetic opioid analogue fentanyl.
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Utilising our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, Randox Toxicology’s DoA MultiSTAT panels detect up to 21 drugs of abuse. The multi-analyte testing platform allows toxicologists to achieve a complete immunoassay profile in the initial screening phase from a single sample, offering CVs typically less than 10%.