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Benzos use on the rise as illicit drugs become hard to access in Bendigo

Bendigo Community Health Services is seeing a rise in prescription medication use as Coronavirus isolation impacts on access to illicit drugs such as ice and heroin.

Benzodiazpines or ‘Benzos’ are prescription-only drugs used to treat issues such as anxiety.

BCHS Alcohol and Other Drugs team manager Jan Dunlop said staff were seeing people turning to prescription medications such as ‘benzos’ because illicit drugs had become too expensive, poor in quality and hard to get.

“Ice and heroin are just becoming too expensive and the quality is terrible so people are accessing ‘benzos’ by using anxiety as their reasoning,” Ms Dunlop said.

“People are also buying Xanax from the dark web.

“The risks that come with using prescription medications in this way are enormous.

“Combining prescription medication (benzodiazepines) with other central nervous system drugs such as cannabis or alcohol drastically increases the risk of respiratory depression, coma and accidental overdose.”

Ms Dunlop said anyone using opioid drugs should have access to Naloxone which temporarily reverses the effects of overdose.

“Naloxone can be administered by injection or nasal spray and saves lives. Our AOD team can provide a free script for Naloxone and education around its use,” Ms Dunlop said.

“If you are using legal or illegal opioid drugs then you should know about Naloxone and make sure those around you are aware too as if you do have an accidental overdose you will rely on family or friends to administer the Naloxone.”

Ms Dunlop said people using prescription medications such as ‘benzos’ must be aware of the dangers around withdrawal.

“Withdrawal from ‘benzos’ is a slow process and people need to be aware that they cannot just come off benzos cold turkey – that’s very dangerous. Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol must be done with the support of your GP or a health professional and not taking this seriously can be fatal.”

Ms Dunlop said anyone with concerns about drug use should call the Bendigo Community Health Services Alcohol and Other Drugs team on 5406 1200 or speak with their GP.

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