NEJM – Journal Watch
By Cara Adler
Alcohol was involved in about one in five deaths related to abuse of opioid pain relievers or benzodiazepines in 2010, according to a study published in MMWR.
In an analysis of data on drug-related emergency department visits nationwide and deaths in 13 states, CDC and FDA researchers found the following:
Alcohol was involved in 19% of the 440,000 ED visits related to opioid abuse and in 27% of the 410,000 visits related to benzodiazepine abuse.
Alcohol was involved in 22% of the nearly 4000 opioid-related deaths and in 21% of the 1500 benzodiazepine-related deaths.
The authors note that when healthcare providers prescribe these drugs, they should discuss the risks of combining them with alcohol or other depressants.
MMWR article (Free)