Combining drugs is always risky. Opioids and benzos (benzodiazepines) have risks when used on their own. When mixed, prescription opiates, like hydrocodone, and Xanax, a strong benzo with a short half-life, can have intense and unpredictable side effects. If someone you know is experimenting with dangerous combinations of drugs like opioids and benzos, we encourage you to reach out to Oasis Recovery to speak with a specialist about the benefits of a treatment program for those who engage in polysubstance abuse.
Dangers of Combining Opioids and Benzos
Benzos are prescribed as anti-anxiety medications and tranquilizers. Xanax, in particular, is prescribed for panic attacks. Ativan has similar properties to Xanax but remains has a longer half-life than Xanax, which means that the withdrawal effects are not as severe and the addictive properties are somewhat reduced. Benzos can also be prescribed for those with seizure disorders and insomnia.
Benzos are sedatives and fall under the general category of downers. Other downers include depressants like alcohol and opioids. Combining downers can pose serious problems for a person’s body as you are essentially doubling down on the effects and side effects associated with these drugs. One of the worst-case scenarios for combining downers like benzos and opiates is overdose. A fear associated with overdose is that your body will completely shut down due to suppressed breathing and heart rate.
The risks of opioids and opiates are well-known due to the opioid epidemic. That being said, the potential for addiction often creeps up on individuals. These drugs are highly addictive meaning tolerance, psychological and physical dependence, can occur surprisingly rapidly.
Physical Effects of Combining Opioids and Benzos
When combined, benzos and opiates reduce brain activity and other vital signs. This is because they are both depressants. Both their effects and side effects overlap and enhance each other. Abusing both substances at the same time can result in:
- Slow breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Weak pulse
By some estimates, upwards of 30% of opioid overdoses involve the use of benzos. The risk of overdose is ten times higher when combining benzos with opiates.
Long-term use of opioids and benzos can have extremely negative consequences on an individual’s body and mind. Organ damage is very common with prolonged use as well as GI problems. Damage to your heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive system, bones, and overall brain function result from long-term abuse. Benzos in particular are associated with memory problems as a result of prolonged abuse.
Signs of Polysubstance Abuse
Polysubstance abuse can occur when an individual is abusing multiple drugs. A person can develop polysubstance dependence by experimenting with combinations of drugs and end up addicted to particularly addictive drugs like opioids and benzos.
Polysubstance addiction typically suggests an individual is abusing several substances without having a strong preference for one drug over another. Those who abuse or are addicted to multiple substances fall under this classification. Those between the ages of 12-25 are considered to be most at risk for polysubstance abuse.
Signs of polysubstance abuse can include:
- Cravings for multiple substances
- Tolerance to multiple substances
- Withdrawal between uses of different substances
- Increased use of substances
- Decreased interest in hobbies
- Changes in social interactions
Contact Oasis Recovery to Break the Cycle of Abuse
If you or someone you care about is abusing opioids and benzos, especially together, it’s important to intervene. The risk of overdose is extremely high when a person is abusing both opioids and benzos. Polysubstance abuse, when a person is addicted to multiple drugs, requires expert treatment to break the cycle of abuse and learn coping mechanisms that can lead to lasting sobriety. Reach out to Oasis Recovery today to learn more about the benefits of our programs and services tailored to fit the individual needs of our clients. Contact us today to speak with a specialist about the right treatment options for you.