Downers Abuse Up

Benzodiazepine drug related admissions nearly triple

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Seeking treatment for all categories of substance abuse problems rose only 11 percent in the decade 1998-2008. But the story is vastly different for benzodiazepines.

According to a new study and report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), substance abuse treatment admissions involving benzodiazepine drugs nearly tripled from 1998 to 2008 (the most recent year with available figures). Admissions in 1998 totalled 22,400 and rose to approximately 60,200 in 2008.

"Lock up your prescription medications and dispose of old ones properly."

Introduced in the 1950s, benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizure disorders. And while these drugs are effective in treating such conditions, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, with overuse often leading to dependency, injury and even death.

The study shows those seeking treatment were predominantly white, non-Hispanic males between the ages of 18-34.

The overwhelming majority of admissions showed that benzodiazepines were being abused along with another drug. In fact, benzodiazepines were the secondary drug of abuse for most (82 percent) of those abusing two or more substances.

The dual substance abuse involved opiates for most age groups, except adolescents and those over the age of 45. For adolescents, marijuana was by far the most common primary substance of abuse, while alcohol was used mostly by those 45 and older.

AMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. says that prescription drug misuse is dangerous and potentially deadly. She adds that everyone can help in the prevention effort by locking up medications and properly disposing of unused medicines.

The report is based on data from the 1998 to 2008 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). TEDS is a reporting system involving treatment facilities from across the country.


Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 13, 2011
Last Updated:
June 13, 2011