Opioid Epidemic

Why Can't I Taking My Pain Medication With My Anxiety Medication

Source: WebMD, FDA, Rx List

Some individuals who deal with chronic pain conditions also suffer from anxiety disorders. It is not recommended to mix opioid medication (including opioid cough medication) and benzodiazepines (benzos). Opioid medications include Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, etc. Benzodiazepines are a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication and include, but are not limited to Klonopin, Ativan, ect. Taking these two types of medications during the same time period can cause serious consequences. Therefore, the dosage and duration of this combination should be extremely limited and monitored by a qualified physician.

In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a BOXED WARNING (their strongest warning) to prescription opioids and benzodiazepine medications. This warning provides important information about the serious risks of concomitant use of opioids and benzos to prescribing physicians, pharmacists, and individuals. Also, opioids and benzodiazepines now come with revised prescription package inserts of precautions, drug interactions, and patient counseling information.

According to FDA research, the number of individuals who were prescribed an opioid and benzo concurrently increased by 41% between 2002 and 2014. Additional studies show that the number of overdose deaths among individuals taking both opioids and benzodiazepines was 10 times higher than among individuals taking opioids only.

Medical attention is imperative, if an individual is taking both an opioid and a benzo and experiences sleepiness, dizziness, lightheaded, sedation, slowed breathing, or unresponsiveness. Also, alcohol should not be consumed while taking either of these medications, and individuals should not drive or operate heavy machinery until the effects of the medication are known.

An in-depth discussion with a health care professional is important if an individual is taking both an opioid and a benzo; the physician should be informed on current medication dosages and the length of time the drugs have been used. Patients should inform their doctor about the degree of anxiety experienced and the amount of pain associated with their chronic pain condition. A health care professional should carefully consider all other avenues before prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines together. They should only be taken together under the close monitoring of a physician and only if no other medications are effective.

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