Long-term Painkiller Use on Rise, 1/3rd Dangerously Mix with Anti-anxiety Meds


About 9% fewer Americans are using prescription opioids than were five years ago, but those people are taking more of the drugs for longer periods of time, according to a study by pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts reported in FiercePharma. And nearly one-third are being put in serious risk of overdose death by taking the opioids alongside prescriptions for benzodiazepine sedatives, stated the New York Times.

Express Scripts “looked at pharmacy claims from 6.8 million Americans who filled at least one prescription for an opioid between 2009 and 2013,” reported FiercePharma. “Nearly half the patients who took opiate painkillers for more than 30 days during the first year of the study continued to use them for three years or longer. Almost half of chronic opioid users took only short-acting meds instead of longer-acting drugs, increasing their risk for addiction.”

“The study also uncovered some lax — and potentially dangerous — prescribing habits,” continued FiercePharma. “About 60% of patients taking opiates were also prescribed drugs that don’t mix with the powerful painkillers. Nearly 27% of people used multiple opiate painkillers at the same time. And about one in three took an antianxiety med along with an opioid–a common cause of overdose deaths, the report points out.”

Long-term painkiller use on the rise, with more patients taking dangerous combos (FiercePharma, December 9, 2014)

Patients Prescribed Narcotic Painkillers Use More of Them for Longer, Study Finds (New York Times, December 9, 2014)


  1. The combination can be a problem, independent of the overdose danger. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines gives the user a heroin-like euphoria. Drug addicts know this and intentionally seek the combination. Naive individuals who combine them for other reasons may “discover” the euphoria and then pursue it in its own right.

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    • The doctors certainly should know this, and not be prescribing the drugs together. But “60% of patients were taking opioids with drugs that don’t mix with the powerful pain killers.” I understand this may be evidence of drug seeking behavior on the part of patients.

      However, as one who had been prescribed six drugs, all of which had major drug interaction warnings with each other, by doctors who’d promised to “first and foremost, do no harm” within a society where the AMA regularly advertises to trust one’s doctor. I’m wondering if it’s not time for a class action suit against the AMA for false advertising. Especially since adverse reactions to drugs are now the number three killer of Americans.

      Irregardless, this seems proof that the majority of doctors should not be trusted. What a shame the mainstream medical community has seemingly turned themselves into a bunch of murderous snake oil salesmen, no doubt, largely thanks to the psychotropic drugs and psychiatry’s misinformation.

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      • I can’t agree with you more. I lost my 16 year old niece who took her own life after being on these drugs and a family member just killed himself ( I highly suspect that these drugs played a part in his death) and I fear for my 16 year old niece who currently takes these drugs and has had nothing but problems with all of them. I blame the drug industry and these so called “therapists/psychiatrists” for over prescribing these TOXIC drugs. They are nothing more than legalized drug dealers and someone needs to be held accountable for all the senseless deaths and harm they are causing. It’s all about greed and money and it makes me so SICK!

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        • Me too, madinillinois, and my experience is that the Illinois doctors are among the most corrupt doctors in this country. I’m certain, in large part, because the ILDofPR does not even address provable crimes and “snowings” / poisonings by doctors like one I had the misfortune of being medically unnecessarily shipped to, who’s now been arrested by the FBI for similar crimes against many patients, V R Kuchipudi:


          I pray you’re successful in getting your family away from the quacks. And my sympathies to you and your family.

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          • Thank you for your support. That is my goal to educate my entire family about this and do whatever I can to put an end to this abuse on the part of these doctors, QUACKS and big pharma. I can’t believe these drugs are even being prescribed and haven’t been pulled from the shelves with all the evidence supporting the damage they are doing and deaths they are causing. It will have to take more and more people speaking out about their experiences and taking action so this corruption stops!

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  2. Great Washington Post article that backs up the above post on the many problems and challenges of “legal” and “illegal” “painkillers, addiction, medical pain management and modern drug cocktails prescribed regularly or obtained via friends and family leading to 100 deaths per day. Keith Humphreys, one of the nation’s leading addiction researchers who teaches psychiatry at Stanford and is a scientist in the VA Palo Alto Health Care System is interviewed about the many challenges surrounding the current overdose and death epidemic among such legal and illegal drug users. He cites the tragedy of the death of the great actor, Philip Seymour, and how lack of one’s usual tolerance after abstinence can play a great role due to lack of information provided to those at risk coming out of jail, rehab and other risky times. Humphreys also points out that making opioids prescription only from licensed medical professionals has not solved the problem of massive harm caused by these drugs. Further, since heroin is cheaper, many users are driven back to the streets and violence that legal prescriptions are meant to avoid. This can easily happen when the many people suffering great pain get addicted to legally prescribed opioids, lose their health insurance and can no longer afford the drugs. Humphreys also laments that the current prescribing of benzos and psychiatric drug cocktails that get mixed with heroin, which was previously uncommon, has greatly increased the death rate in this at risk group. Humphrey describes many other challenges that contribute to this human holocaust that might be changed or avoided. The greed of both criminal minded or lax doctors and Big Pharma have also played a huge role in this tragic drug cocktail epidemic.


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  3. “Nearly half the patients who took opiate painkillers for more than 30 days during the first year of the study continued to use them for three years or longer. Almost half of chronic opioid users took only short-acting meds instead of longer-acting drugs, increasing their risk for addiction.”

    Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit !

    The longer acting drugs increase addiction risk more because withdrawal reactions are worse when the body is used to a steady state level from XR versions.

    Who said “long acting” is less addictive ? The pharma companies who get a new patent when they make a drug extended release ? Show me PROOF extended release is less addictive. Love to see it.

    Xanax XR was a nightmare !

    Withdrawal reactions cause addiction NOT the feeling of being high !!! Other drugs like cocaine and amphetamine create a much better high than pain pills/Benzos but are easier to come off because the withdrawal is so much easier.

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