Common Medications are Being ‘Over-Prescribed,’ Study Shows
A new study suggests that several commonly-prescribed anti-anxiety medications are being overused and over-prescribed at an alarming rate.
According to a study published in the "American Journal of Public Health," a tripling of prescriptions for Valium and Xanax, as well as a quadrupling of overdoses of these drugs was seen between 1996 and 2013.
"As a class of medicine, benzodiazapines are a highly-addictive medication or highly addictive drug," said Dr. William Stanley, medical director of Serenity at Summit Behavioral Health.
Stanley issues involving "benzos" are not new. He says it is just being reported more than it had been in the past.
Stanley said benzodiazapines have been on the market for years. They have generally been prescribed for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and although they're not intended to treat insomnia, these drugs are sometimes prescribed to people with sleep disorders.
"It is most appropriate or most important that the person taking these medications, as well as the prescriber prescribing these medications do as much as they can to monitor the use," the doctor said. "Because I would say, for example, if I were given it to you for sleep, and I saw you back in the office a month later, telling me, 'oh doctor, my prescription ran out in 15 days because I was using more of it than I should,' than that would lead me to think that maybe there is some abuse potential here."
Stanley said kicking a "benzos" habit can be tougher than detox for opioids such as heroin and oxycontin.
"The brain, like any drug, likes the effects of the drug itself, and it lends one, especially one who might have an addictive personality, to end up abusing the medication," Stankey said.
He added that when someone is using these medications inappropriately, you probably would not notice anything.
The most common side effects from these medications are fatigue and tiredness, so if taken as prescribed, one might not notice anything in particular, the doctor said. However, if someone is abusing it, there may be additional side effects, such as slurred speech, altered sleeping patterns, tiredness, fatigue and drooping eyes.