More Overdose Deaths from Anxiety Drugs

(THE NEW YORK TIMES) , Overdose deaths involving anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax are on the rise, with more than a fourfold increase between 1996 and 2013, a new study says.

Fatal prescription-drug overdoses in the United States have increased sharply in recent years. But while most of the deaths have involved opioid painkillers like oxycodone, a new study suggests that anti-anxiety medications now are playing an outsize role in overdose deaths.

The number of Americans filling prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs — benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax that are used to treat anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia — increased 67 percent between 1996 and 2013, the study found. But the rate of overdose deaths involving these drugs increased more than fourfold.

The analysis, published online last week in The American Journal of Public Health, found that 5.6 percent of American adults filled a benzodiazepine prescription in 2013, up from 4.1 percent in 1996. (The actual number of Americans filling a benzodiazepine prescription rose to 13.5 million in 2013, up from 8.1 million in 1996.)

Meanwhile, the rate of overdose deaths involving anti-anxiety drugs reached 3.07 per 100,000 adults in 2013, up from 0.58 per
100,000 adults in 1996.

Source: More Overdose Deaths from Anxiety Drugs – The New York Times