Dr. Renita Brown is a family practitioner practicing in GADSDEN, AL. Dr. Brown specializes in comprehensive health care for people of all ages. In addition to diagnosing and treating illnesses, family practitioners also put focus on preventative care with routine checkups, tests and personalized coaching on how to maintain... more
Ask Dr. Gail
I’m writing this column because I believe in the power of information to improve people’s health.
Dear Dr. Gail,
I have been taking Norco and Valium for over 10 years and my doctor retired. My new doctor will not prescribe these medications and I don’t understand. I have never abused them in the past. What is going on and why is this happening to me?
First of all you are NOT being singled out, there is rarely a day in my clinic where I do not have to address this question and situation. Nobody is accusing you of doing anything wrong. Deaths from opioid overdoses have increased fourfold. Both of these drugs are highly addictive and are dangerous, especially when taken together.
You are talking about taking an opioid with a benzodiazepine. Examples of prescription benzodiazepines are: Xanax, Ativan, Clonopine and Valium. Examples of prescription opioids are: OxyContin, Fentanyl, morphine and Norco.
The FDA has recently issued a black box warning regarding the dangers of using these two classes of medications at the same time. About 30% of fatal opioid overdoses involve the use of a benzodiazepine or taken while drinking alcohol. All providers are being tracked by the DEA and insurance companies for prescription practices.
Providers can be criminally prosecuted for negligent homicide if the patient is prescribed these two medications together and the patient dies. In addition, the patient can be arrested for being untruthful with their provider and “doctor shopping" if trying to obtain multiple prescriptions from multiple sources.
Recently, a doctor was found guilty of murder for over-prescribing drugs that caused the fatal overdose of three patients. These drugs include powerful narcotics such as oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, and sedatives like Xanax and Valium.
All providers and pharmacists are required by state law to see if a patient has been “doctor shopping “ before writing or filling a controlled medication. We have the ability to check multiple states and see how many controlled substances that an individual is getting from how many other doctors and where they are filled.