Benzodiazepines are now ‘a major problem’ in illicit drug supply

published on February 10, 2022 in DATAC

Across Canada, provincial health experts and authorities have expressed concerns due to the growing incidence of detection of benzodiazepines in the illicit drug supply. According to the findings of a report released by the BC Coroners Service, the detection of benzodiazepines – a class of psychoactive drugs that depresses nervous system function – has been significantly increasing in the province’s drug supply.

While fentanyl is still present in the vast majority of illicit drug deaths and drug samples, the combination of strong benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, with potent opioids, is especially dangerous since both types of drugs cause sedation and can result in cessation of breathing.

In her interview with CBC News, Karen McDonald, the lead for Toronto’s drug harm reduction services operating out of St. Michael’s Hospital, notes that it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide individuals sufficient information to plan their drug use. So far, at least 13 different types of benzodiazepines have been detected in illicit drug supply in Ontario, some of which are not prescribed in Canada. “It’s consistently changing. We feel like we can’t keep up with how many new drugs are coming in and out,” McDonald said…

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