It is hard to say how many people die from benzodiazepines (benzo) detoxification in treatment centers. State laws usually do not require addiction treatment centers to report deaths to regulators. Many states simply do not track the number of deaths in rehabilitation or treatment centers.
Also, some experts suggest that medical examiners often incorrectly list the cause of death as an overdose of some other drug instead of dying from benzodiazepine withdrawal. That fact is not surprising, as many people going through detox have alcohol or other drugs in their bodies, and these substances appear on the post-mortem toxicology testing.
Another reason for the lack of statistics is that treatment centers tend to rush dying patients to nearby emergency rooms. In that situation, the place of death will be the hospital, not the treatment center.
When there are statistics, they tend either to group all deaths in treatment facilities together or focus on heroin and other opioids. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that 3,362 of the people who were getting treatment for alcohol and drug addiction in inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment centers in 2015 died during the time that he or she was in treatment.
Heroin and Benzodiazepines
Heroin addiction gets far more attention than benzo addiction, even though nearly as many people abuse or misuse benzo as heroin, and the benzo numbers are skyrocketing. Contributing to the benzo crisis is the fact that some people get hooked on benzo when treatment centers use the drug to help relieve withdrawal symptoms when people are detoxing from heroin and other opioids.
Some doctors have been prescribing benzo drugs recklessly for years, with the incorrect assumption that the drug is harmless. The CDC reported that, as far back as 2012, doctors wrote 37.6 benzodiazepine prescriptions for every 100 Americans.
You might recognize benzo by its common names, rather than the chemical name of benzodiazepine. Brand names of popular types of benzo drugs include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Librium.
Detox-Related Benzo Deaths
The body goes through many physical and neurological changes when it no longer gets a substance on which it is dependent, like alcohol or other drugs. Most deaths from detox are the result of severe gastrointestinal bleeding or massive seizures.
Detox Deaths in Treatment Centers
The Orange County Register says that there have been dozens of deaths in rehabilitation or treatment centers in California since 2012. Many of these deaths happened during detox. Some centers that claim to provide 24/7 medical supervision actually only have a person who knows how to perform CPR.
Also, around-the-clock supervision claims might not mean constant monitoring. Some rehab centers put people into housing where no one is watching the patients for seizures or other indications of medical crisis. Many treatment centers are “non-medical” facilities, which means that there is no doctor on staff.
Sudden Withdrawal Deaths in Jails
Some people addicted to benzo drugs die from cold-turkey withdrawal when he or she gets arrested for an offense and cannot get the drugs in jail. The addicted person does not quit the drug suddenly by choice, but jails do not provide drugs to inmates for their addictions. Very few jails provide alcohol or drug treatment services for inmates.
How Many Treatment Centers Offer Benzo Detox
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. only collected information for one year—2010—on how many U.S. facilities offered detox services for clients, by a substance.
SAMSA reports that, as of 2010, there were 2,501 facilities in the United States that offered detox services. The vast majority of these centers (2,170) were private as opposed to funded by the government. The detox services offered were:
- Opiates – 2,100 facilities
- Alcohol – 1,699
- Benzodiazepines – 1,499
- Cocaine – 1,369
- Methamphetamines – 1,359
- Other substances – 317
While it is clear that benzo detox is more prevalent than cocaine or meth detox treatment, benzo addiction and treatment do not get the media attention that many other drugs receive.
If your loved one died in a treatment center while undergoing benzo detox, a lawyer can help you go after compensation for your loss. The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins will treat you with compassion and respect. We will work hard to get you all the financial damages you deserve.
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