Provider News Summer 2015 - Benzo Opioid

Figure 2 

Benzodiazepine and opioid-related deaths

Shasta County’s three-year average annual number of benzodiazepine-related deaths has declined slightly (from 10 to 7 per year), while the average number of opioid-related deaths has remained fairly steady (between 22 and 26 per year). From 2008 through 2014, 58 deaths in Shasta County listed one or more specific benzodiazepines as the underlying cause of death (COD).

Deaths related to both benzodiazepine and opioid are shown in the accompanying graph. In 13 of these cases, alcohol was also included in the underlying COD. The numbers may be undercounted, as an additional 109 deaths were excluded because the underlying COD didn’t specify the drug involved. Examples include polypharmacy, mixed drug intoxication, mixed drug and alcohol intoxication, drug overdose, etc.

80-90% of local benzodiazepine-related deaths also had opiates involved (top, blue line). Don’t prescribe benzodiazepines and opiates together unless absolutely necessary.