VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A drug that increases the risk of a fatal overdose when mixed with opioids has been introduced into the local supply, according to the health authority.
Vancouver Coastal Health is warning people who use drugs and people who work with them in the community about the dangers of benzodiazepines .
“They combination is particularly concerning because they both sedate the brain and decrease respiration in slightly different ways. And so, when the brain has these two different effects happening on it people can really overdose quite easily,” says Medical Health Officer Dr. Mark Lysychyn
VCH regional addiction program has sent the following advisory to community action teams re: benzos in the drug supply.
"Benzodiazepines when taken with opioids increase the risk of overdose and the risk of death."
— BCCSU (@BCCSU) July 18, 2019
He adds the danger is increased because users often don’t know it’s in the drugs they’re taking.
“This is the current most concerning trend. We don’t know whether it’s going to continue and we hope it’s going to decrease,” he says.
Dr. Lysychyn says overdoses from a combination of benzodiazepines and opioids have a high risk of being fatal.
“The overdose can also be quite difficult to reverse because although you can administer naloxone to reduce the toxicity from opioids, you can’t do anything in the community for the toxicity from benzodiazepines.
The drug is usually prescribed as a sedative for people suffering from insomnia or anxiety.
Vancouver Coastal Health is encouraging people who use drugs to get them tested at an overdose prevention site or supervised consumption site.