The opiate crisis

It should really me the Benzodiazepine Crisis. I went looking for numbers the other day to talk to my doctor about using opiates to treat pain and it was a real eye opener.

I have been on a benzodiazepine for 17 years, I take clonazepam (Klonopin) for my anxiety disorder. They are addictive and I’ve known that for a long time – like it was one of the warnings given to me when I started using clonazepam. And the rate of addiction for clonazepam is smaller than for its family members alprazolam, diazepam, or lorazepam (Xanax, Valim, and Ativan in that order).

Abuse rates of benzodiazepines are higher than opiates. There are more accidental overdoses of benzodiazepines every year than opiates because they are “party drugs”. They work on anxiety by lowering inhibitions, so they can also be used as date rape drugs in heavy doses. Finally, there are more overdose deaths in the US every year from benzodiazepines than from opiates.

While the feel good drugs are monitored and restricted – it’s considered a last ditch effort for anxiety treatment – no one is limiting the number of prescriptions a doctor can write for them or talking about it on the news.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we are getting tougher on opiates, but I am beginning to wonder if we picked the wrong drugs to have a crisis about.

It is easier to get Xanax than Vicodin. Chances of most people overdosing on legitimate Vicodin and Percocet are slim. However, it doesn’t take a ton of Xanax to depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory failure.

Hell, the max dosage of clonazepam for a 24-hour period is 2mgs. Yes, just two milligrams per 24 hours. Abusing it makes you feel good because that’s what it is supposed to do, even in small doses. Where as opiates make me feel sick even at normal, mild prescription rates of 10mgs every 6 hours. Oh and in high doses, benzodiazepines make you feel high just like an opiate… It’s no wonder that people are more likely to overdose on benzodiazepines than opiates. Benzodiazepines make you sleepy, but they also make you happy.

I feel like patients like me, with pain issues, are fighting a losing battle at the moment. As opiates become harder and harder to obtain and quality of life goes down as a result, then isn’t the opiate crisis specifically breaking the Hippocratic Oath? If a doctor can’t prescribe an opiate pain reliever when nothing else works, can they claim to be upholding the doctor’s cred Do No Harm?

Once again, those are the people truly hurt by trying to stop the opiate crisis: people in pain. They can’t get the meds they need to deal with their pain because the government sees all pain medication users as potential drug addicts and overdoses. They won’t legalize pot on a national level even though it often helps with the same pain that opiates help with. We are cutting off our noses to spite our face.

3 thoughts on “The opiate crisis

  1. They are trying to regulate more than codeine and morphine. In July the state of Kentucky made Gabapentin a controlled substance. People, particularly in more rural areas, were using it recreationally and, as you experienced, they were getting high and dying. I work in a national LTC pharmacy and this was a huge hit with a lot of backlash from facilities and nurses. Just legalize pot. Seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

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