Psychiatric drugs killing more users than heroin, cocaine, say health experts (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)

Health professionals are sounding the alarm over the heightened risk of death linked to the use of psychiatric drugs, which was highlighted in a pair of Vancouver-based studies published this month.

Benzodiazepine (BZD) is a class of psychiatric medications known as “tranquillizers” which can reduce the body's drive to breathe and are used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, seizures, and other conditions. They include commonly prescribed drugs such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan.

The first of the two studies, which involved researchers from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE) and the University of B.C., looked at the impact of BZD use on mortality rates and established that use of BZDs was linked to a higher risk of death than illegal drugs.

Stephanie Ip reports

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