A study by the University of Michigan revealed a pretty shocking statistic, which is that one in four elderly Americans become addicted to Xanax. The addiction starts with a legitimate doctor’s prescription, but some users become dependent on the pill. This is a similar pattern to the opioid addiction sweeping the nation, which also starts typically with a doctor’s prescription and then later swells into a full-blown addiction. Worse yet, the study also pointed out that nobody is paying attention to the epidemic that’s hitting the elderly population.
Around 600 people were involved in the study. It looked at how many days of benzodiazepine the elderly were prescribed (which include Xanax and Valium), and then tracked their use of pills. The study also focused on low-income elderly from Pennsylvania, who were on average 78-years-old, according to the Daily Mail.
Out of the 600 people who were prescribed benzodiazepine at one point between 2008 or 2016, around 26 percent were still using the pills an entire year later. And the longer that someone used the pills, the more likely they were to be addicted.
Some people even received prescriptions for benzos that lasted months, some including eight months’ worth at a time. This is alarming, considering that the study discovered that the risk of addiction doubles every 10 extra days that the prescription is given.
Like Tic-Tacs... but not Tic-Tacs https://t.co/VZcx1geo1b— Chad J. Rohlfsen DC (@crohlfsen) September 11, 2018
Dr. Lauren Gerlach from the study said the following.
“This shows that we need to help providers start with the end in mind when prescribing a benzodiazepine, by beginning with a short-duration prescription and engage patients in discussions of when to reevaluate their symptoms and begin tapering the patient off.”
One of the big issues is that after using the pill over a period of time, the effects can wear off even with the same dosage as before. This means that users opt to take higher dosages, thus leaving people susceptible to addiction. Again, this pattern is very similar to opioid abuse.
Meanwhile, Xanax abuse is also affecting teenagers, according to PEW. In these cases, the pill is sometimes being mixed with other substances like alcohol and opioids, thus causing a potentially dangerous cocktail. Sharon Levy, director of teen addiction treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that benzos misuse by young people has taken a turn for the worse.
“Adolescent benzo use has skyrocketed and more kids are being admitted to hospitals for benzo withdrawal because the seizures are so dangerous.”