We have all heard about the dangers of painkillers in the media, but they are not the only drugs we worry about in our patients. A recent study garnered a lot of media attention over the past year. Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that overdoses of benzodiazepine drugs (with names like lorazepam, diazepam or clonazepam) increased about fourfold between 1996-2013.

These drugs, which previous studies have linked to a 50% increase in Alzheimer’s risk, were also prescribed more often during that period of time.  This is important information, because chronic pain is strongly linked to the brain inflammation that ages the brain.  Another drug class called anticholinergic medications, which are commonly used to treat bladder symptoms, is also linked to higher Alzheimer’s risk.  It is also worth noting that over 30% of opioid-related deaths occur in people who take these two drug classes together.

If you suffer from anxiety or insomnia and are using any kind of sedative medication, it is almost certainly affecting your memory, focus and concentration.  It may also be harming your brain.  There are many other ways to treat these symptoms, including exercise, warm baths with epsom salts, breathing techniques and many others.  Long-term medications can sometimes reduce your risk of disease, but we recommend caution when using them to treat symptoms.

You can watch the NBC news story here: