Up to 2.6 million U.S. adults are prescribed a potentially dangerous mix of opioid painkillers and sedatives, a new study estimates.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, using opioids and sedative substances known as benzodiazepines together can cause extreme sleepiness, respiratory depression, coma and death. Common benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Halcion, Ativan and Klonopin.
In the new study, researchers analyzed medical data from 28.4 million adults who had a prescription for opioids. Of those, 9% had also been prescribed benzodiazepines and other types of sedatives in the same calendar year, HealthDay reports. The average annual number of prescriptions filled for opioids, benzodiazepines and other sedatives in this group was almost 25 per person, the study found.
Those most likely to receive prescriptions for opioids and sedatives were those who had severe pain, anxiety, depression, stress related disorders and sleep disorders.