Men are more likely to abuse benzodiazepines

Washington: Turns out, a large number of people misuse benzodiazepines to get relieved from tension without consulting their physicians.

A study has found that the misuse of benzodiazepines is strongly connected with dependence on prescription opioids or stimulants. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Psychiatric Services.

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications used to treat conditions such as anxiety and insomnia. They include Alprazolam diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, and others.

The researchers defined misuse of benzodiazepine, as using the drug without a prescription or more often or longer than prescribed.

According to studies, the overall use of benzodiazepine has increased, and the current study is the first to find the highest benzodiazepine use among adults 50 to 64 years (13 per cent). Previous studies found that the highest use was among those 65 and older.

However, women were more likely than men to report any use of benzodiazepines but men were more likely than women to report the misuse. Benzodiazepine use has come under increasing scrutiny given the associated harms and safer alternatives, particularly in light of opioid epidemic.

When asked about the reasons for misuse, nearly half of the users said to relax or relieve tension and just over a quarter said to help with sleep. Among people taking benzodiazepines without a prescription, the most common source was a friend or a relative.

The team of researchers led by Donovan Maust suggests that patients also prescribed stimulants or opioids should be monitored for benzodiazepine misuse. They also note that some misuse may reflect limited access to health care generally and behavioural treatments specifically and suggest that some misuse could be reduced with improved access to behavioural interventions for sleep or anxiety.