Benzodiazepines and “Z-Drugs” Increase Death Risk When Taken With Opioids

Opioid Prescription Pill Overdose

A brand new examine by Vanderbilt College Medical Heart researchers of extra the 400,000 Medicare sufferers taking medicines for insomnia discovered that the danger of demise is elevated when both benzodiazepines or “z-drugs” are taken with opioids.

The examine, revealed on July 15, 2021, in PLOS Medication and led by Wayne Ray, PhD, professor of Well being Coverage at VUMC, in contrast sufferers taking these medication with opioids to comparable sufferers taking trazodone, one other generally prescribed sleep treatment for older sufferers. The researchers discovered that these utilizing benzodiazepines had a 221% improve within the danger of demise from any trigger and these taking non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, or “z-drugs,” had a 68% elevated danger.

“Our findings point out that the dangers of benzodiazepine-opioid use go effectively past the acknowledged hazards of overdose. In addition they counsel that the z-drugs, thought to have higher security than the benzodiazepines, in reality are harmful when prescribed together with opioid ache medicines,” Ray stated.

Benzodiazepines, together with model names akin to Restoril, Ativan, and Halcion and the “z-drugs,” a sort of treatment recognized extra generally underneath names like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, are among the many most regularly prescribed medicines for older adults.

Trazodone, a medicine initially launched for melancholy, is usually prescribed in low doses for insomnia. Though researchers have speculated concerning the relative security of those sleep medicines, there may be restricted relative security information.

Ray stated the examine findings may assist to fill this information hole and thus result in adjustments in each supplier conduct and coverage.

“Our findings add urgency to efforts to restrict concurrent prescribing of benzodiazepines and opioids. In addition they counsel that focused warnings are wanted to advise older sufferers and their suppliers concerning the potential dangers of taking z-drugs with opioids,” Ray stated.

Reference: “Mortality and concurrent use of opioids and hypnotics in older sufferers: A retrospective cohort examine” by Wayne A. Ray, Cecilia P. Chung, Katherine T. Murray, Beth A. Malow, James R. Daugherty and C. Michael Stein, 15 July 2021, PLOS Medication.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003709

The examine was supported by a grant from the Nationwide Coronary heart, Lung and Blood Institute.


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