Sharp Rise In ER Visits Due To Misuse of Xanax

- A government report shows a sharp rise in emergency room visits linked to the misuse of Xanax, a commonly prescribed sedative.

The number of ER visits for Xanax abuse more than doubled between 2005 and 2011, reaching nearly 125,000.

The combination of Xanax with powerful painkillers or alcohol is especially dangerous because it can cause patients to stop breathing.

Doctors say Xanax is a safe and effective medication when used as directed.

In other health news, a new study reveals mental illness may reduce life expectancy, as much as, or more than, heavy smoking.

Patients with bipolar or schizophrenia disorder may shave as much as 10 to 20 years off their lives, while the average heavy smoker loses eight to ten years.

That's because they're more likely to die by suicide or become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Researchers say these findings show that major improvements are needed in recognizing and treating mental illness.

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