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Benzo Dope is Making Plain Fentanyl Look Safe

Benzo Dope

Benzo Dope is Making Plain Fentanyl Look Safe

Just when you thought it was safe to die quietly from fentanyl, you now get to overdose from benzos too. That’s right. Benzos have entered the opioid drugstream, and they’ve brought on a deadly new mix. It’s called Benzo Dope. And if you survive an overdose’s initial minutes, you’ll still have to beat a few excruciating hours. Provided, of course, you haven’t been Narcanned too many times to survive in the first place.

Benzo Dope is a mix of benzos and fentanyl. You know, Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and the like, cut with what’s supposed to be a healthy dose of fentanyl. Problem is ever since the U.S. got China to outlaw fentanyl, there’s been a severe shortage. So these days you’re lucky to get 5% fentanyl. The rest is all benzos.

As you probably suspect, that creates a whole host of new problems. First, you’re now also going to develop a benzo addiction to go with the opiod addiction. Second, Narcan doesn’t work against benzos. So if you suffer a Benzo Dope overdose, you’re quite likely down for the count. And if by chance the Narcan does stabilize you, you’ll still have to ride out the hours and hours of benzo withdrawal before you know whether you’ve really survived.

That can’t be done at home either. It’s got to be done in the hospital. Just as well though, because with what you’re about to go through you’ll want medical professionals to be as close as possible.

Benzo Dope: It’s a Double Killer

You can’t really blame the government for Benzo Dope. Not really. See, since fentanyl doesn’t have legs, drug dealers were already seeking to add an ingredient that would make it last. The fentanyl shortage just made them pivot all the faster. They’d have eventually gotten to benzos. In fact, there’s evidence that the drug dealers may already be pivoting even further. Have you heard of tranq yet? No? You will. Very, very soon.

Right now though we’re concentrating on Benzo Dope and our corrupted opioid supply. And like we said, that means legs and law enforcement.

There are two likely explanations for the arrival of benzos into the opioid supply. First, dealers may be intentionally introducing benzos into the supply to create a longer lasting and more intense high. They can mimic and even enhance an opioid’s effects, allowing less opioid to be used for the same street-value sample. Second, benzos are less strictly monitored and therefore easier to manufacture than are opioids.

That’s from the good folks at Healthy Debate, an open source site that publishes journalism about health care in Canada. Their motto is: Free to read. Free to republish. And we couldn’t thank them more.


Healthy Debate also publishes Comments. And one comment on this piece really broke our heart. It’s from someone named JC, a non-user who wants to find help for his 30-year-old addict partner. The partner apparently is on Suboxone. But her morning doses don’t hold, so she hits the streets in the afternoons and evenings. Now she also has a Benzo Dope habit. Further complicating matters, it seems JC and the addict have children. (Or at least one child anyway.)

But this suffering couple can’t find help. Yep even in Canada, there seems to be a shortage of professionals qualified to handle Benzo Dope. And if there’s a shortage in Canada, there must be a near absence here in the States.

We can only wish JC and his partner the very best of luck.

What to Do?

So what to do? Some people believe that everyone who sells fentanyl should simply be arrested for murder. A Safe Consumption Site worker in Toronto named Matt Johnson has a different idea:

“There’s only one way forward, which is decriminalization of all drugs,” Johnson told Healthy Debate. “Across the board, safe supply needs to be standardized in medicine. There’s a philosophical shift that needs to happen. We need to stop looking back at what we’ve done, at what has failed us.”

The Oregon Experiment

Oregon has tried decriminalization. It’s called Measure 110. And so far it’s left a lot of folks out in the rain. Some of that’s due to the pandemic. The rest is all Measure 110, which comes with $100 fine that gets dropped if you call a helpline.

“If it’s like a parking ticket, what is the person’s motivation [to get help]?” asks Pam Pearce, founder of Oregon’s first high school dedicated to youth recovery. “We’re talking heroin, meth, cocaine and acid — it’s not child’s play.”

Pearce, who’s now executive director of an Oregon substance abuse prevention organization called Community Living Above, also told NPR she believes a citation and potential fine may not be strong enough incentive for folks to quit. So do a lot of other folks. Yes, even those from the recovery side of the street. And with relapse rates rising, it’s a bet even more will start thinking the same thing.

The problem is Oregon passed Measure 110 before it had set up sufficient addiction treatment. Now even those seeking help can’t find it. Since no one is mandated to get help either, there’s no evidence Measure 110 has yet to do anything but reduce arrests.

The Portugal Experiment

Portugal, in contrast, spent two full years establishing the vast network of treatment beds and counseling services it knew would be needed before decriminalization. Consequently, new HIV infections, drug deaths and the prison population all fell sharply within the first decade – and people got help.

Yes, Transform says the second decade saw slower improvement in key measures, as well as an upturn in drug deaths. However, the country is in a much better position than it was in 2001. In fact, recorded drug use and drug deaths as a proportion of the general population are both well below the European average.

Granted, it’s too late for Oregon to turn back the proverbial clock. So the state’s going to be hustling to catch up to itself for at least a couple years. Nevertheless, Oregon voters and stakeholders both should be applauded for attempting to find a solution. After all, fifty years of The War on Drugs sure hasn’t worked.

Healing Properties

Healing Properties also believes we need a new new thing. That’s why we praised Measure 110 when it went into effect back in February ’21. Then again, we also believe in being prepared. So we’d like to see a serious expansion in addiction treatment support before the next new new thing gets introduced. That means at all levels, from detox to sober home. Because only then will addicts see true long-term recovery.

How about you? Are you ready to sober up? Have you decided to hang with the recovery crowd? We’d luv to have you. Heck, we’d luv to help you. All you’ve gotta do is call. So what do ya say? Ready to ring?

(Image: Shutterstock)

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