The number of patients admitted to substance abuse treatment who report benzodiazepine abuse tripled from 1998 to 2008, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in June. In 1998, benzodiazepines were involved—not necessarily as the primary drug of abuse—in 22,400 admissions. Ten years later, this number had grown to 60,200.
Benzodiazepines were rarely the only drug used, or even the primary drug. In 82.1 percent of the cases, benzodiazepines were the secondary drug of abuse, with opioids (54 percent) usually the primary drug—a pattern that roughly held true for nearly every age group except adolescents and those aged 45 and older (see chart).
One major public health concern with multiple drug abuse is the risk of overdose. The SAMHSA report notes that “abuse of benzodiazepines in combination with other substances can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences.”
The report, based on the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), was released by SAMHSA in June 2011. The report collects information from providers on the primary substance of abuse, and up to two additional substances, at admission to treatment.
The TEDS Report, Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions for Abuse of Benzodiazepines, can be found at: http://staging3.atforum.com/documents/TEDS028BenzoAdmissions.pdf.