New Type Of Overdose Caught E.R. Off Guards


Recently E.R. records a growing number of overdoses with opioids mixed with benzodiazepines, a class of psychoactive drugs used in anxiety medications. Last weekend emergency departments were notified of 16 overdoses in 24 hours.

The standard used kits for opioids, like naloxone, or Narcan doesn’t exert any reversing effect on Benzodiazepines, leaving the patients defenseless in front of overdoses. The victims suffer confusion and sometimes remain unconscious even after naloxone administration. They may need to be continuously monitored, which is ‘another level of stress’ to E.R. staff.

The incidence of such overdoses is a matter of public concern. Until now, St. Paul’s Hospital hosted most of the cases.

A Lethal Cocktail of Sedatives

Opioids and benzodiazepines share common traits, being both sedatives, but they have different neurological ways of action. Cutting them together raises challenging issues for the health workers.

Earlier this year had been found illicitly-produced contaminated drugs with etizolam, which is very similar to benzodiazepine. Other contaminated drugs have been found this week, in Powell River.

The illegal drug supply will produce dangerous drugs. This is the last type of compound we’d want to see mixed with opioids, but here it is.

Overdose Treatment Not Allowed in Hospitals

The specially created medications for benzodiazepine overdoses are unfortunately not available in hospitals and other healthcare units due to side effects and possible complications.

The new wave of contaminated drugs caught doctors off guards. Withdrawal and addiction is harder to deal with, as the medical staff uses the traditional treatment on ‘uncharted territory’. Furthermore, users might develop physical dependence in a short time.

The overdoses put an end to 1,514 lives last year in B.C. communities. The main culprits had fentanyl, while secondary positions listed benzodiazepines, over-the-counter medications, and other drugs, as stated by coroner data.

It is believed these overdoses are resulted by an increased drug supply. Government is requested to initiate a central campaign on this matter in the next federal election.


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