The number of deaths relating to "street benzos" has tripled in the past year, rising from 62 in 2020 to 171 in 2021, prompting experts to warn of a potential surge in demand for illegal versions of benzodiazepine.
Although legal benzodiazepine drugs, such as diazepam and temazepam, are often prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, they are commonly linked to addiction and are only recommended for short-term use.
Over the last decade, GP prescriptions for benzodiazepine drugs dropped from 11.3 million in 2010 to 8.6 million in 2020.
The Mirror reports that UK doctors have expressed concerns over a slew of illegal "street benzos" that has contributed to a surge in deaths, with a recorded triple increase from 62 in 2020 to 171 in 2021, according to government data.
Legal benzodiazepine drugs, which are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and muscle spasms, may provide temporary relief from these symptoms, but their chemical composition lends them to a high risk of addiction.
Although calls have been made for stricter regulation of the drug's legal alternatives, the total doctor prescriptions of benzodiazepines dropped by 24% between 2010 and 2020, making them less accessible to the population.
On the other hand, The Times' article highlights that legal means of obtaining medical relief are available to some individuals.
The Times' report focuses on 22-year-old Calli, a musician, who was prescribed cannabis by a psychiatrist.
She was relieved to stop relying on backstreet drug dealers to relieve her anxiety symptoms.
She said, "I don't have to hide anything anymore.
" The article reports that an increasing number of people are circumventing legal means to obtain medical relief and buying illegal street drugs to alleviate mental health symptoms.
Although Callie's report reflects positively on the availability of legal medical alternatives, it highlights the limitations of conventional ways of treating mental illnesses.
Ultimately, the two reports show the complex interplay between government-regulated drug availability and people's increasing desperation to alleviate mental health symptoms.