Spike of unregulated drugs mixed with benzodiazepines creating targeted violence: experts

published on February 12, 2022 by Nikitha Martins in CityNews

Vulnerable people who use unregulated drugs in B.C. are not only at risk of dying from the illicit toxic supply, but are facing risks to their safety like gender-based violence, according to advocates and health care professionals.

Along with the alarming provincial reports that 2,224 people died of illicit toxic drugs in 2021, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the detection rate of benzodiazepines spiked from 15 per cent in July 2020 to 50 per cent in December 2021.

Commonly used benzodiazepines that are usually prescribed are Xanax, Valium, or Ativan and may be used to ease acute anxiety. Dr. Paxton Bach, a medical director at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, further explains this means it is a “sitting medication.” But when sedatives are combined with opioids and alcohol, he says, “the results can be unpredictable and dangerous.”

“We’ve never seen them in this context before, and that is really creeping into the unregulated drug supply surprisingly quickly and being combined with opioids and sold on the street in unknown quantities and concentrations,” he told CityNews…

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