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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Polysubstance Abuse: Alcohol, Opioids and Benzodiazepines Require Coordinated Engagement by Society, Patients, and Physicians


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published significant data trends related to substance abuse involving opioid pain relievers (OPR), benzodiazepines and alcohol in the United States. The CDC describes opioid misuse and abuse as an epidemic, with the use of OPR surpassing that of illicit drugs. Alcohol has also been a persistent problem and is associated with a number of emergency department visits and deaths independent of other substances. The use of these drugs in combination creates an additive effect with increased central nervous system suppression and a heightened risk of an overdose. We present a summary of the findings from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) with commentary on strategies to combat prescription drug and alcohol abuse. [West J Emerg Med. 2015;16(1):–0.]

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