Turning to Sedatives During COVID-19

7th August 2020

It’s not been very good news for those with substance use and alcohol use disorders.  Across the UK many people are increasing the amount they take or turning to different substances to ease their concerns about this crisis.

There has been a surge in those using benzodiazepines and other similar drugs. Some of these illicit drugs are not medically licensed or been tested properly and they have a hugely variable affect, including inducing comas and death.

Dr Rachel Britton, who is the director of pharmacy at We Are With You, which provides drug and alcohol treatment services in 80 locations in England and Scotland, said: “You can’t get Xanax prescribed on the NHS so if someone offers it to you it’s extremely likely to be illicitly produced.

“Testing has shown that these fake pills can often contain different substances in differing strengths, meaning the chances of overdose are far higher.


“Due to the dangers, we are urging people to avoid taking these drugs. Unlike opiates, there is no readily available overdose reversal drug for these fake tablets within communities. The drug used to reverse benzodiazepines is carried by ambulance crews and in hospitals so it’s vital that anyone feeling unwell after taking these tablets seeks medical help.”

If you are seeking help managing this crisis please speak to your GP or seek help from a private doctor.

If you already have a substance misuse issue and suffering, it might be best to consider “less nuclear options”.  “Benzos” (benzodiazepines) are notoriously difficult to manage with a substance use disorder, they can often lead to the deregulation of emotions, depression of breathing and also exacerbate mental health disorders.

If you are having trouble with anxiety, you may want to seek help from a therapist and also consider taking medications such as anti-depressives which can have an anti-anxiety effect for some.

Always see a doctor first before taking any medication. If you live in the UK you may wish to see a private doctor as GP’s in the UK have an awful track record in helping mental needs. 

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