Combination Abuse of Benzodiazepines and Narcotics on the Rise

January 11, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


The number of individuals who were admitted to substance abuse treatment programs for abusing a combination of benzodiazepines and narcotic pain relievers increased almost 570% between 2000 and 2010, according to a December 13, 2012, report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). While the volume of benzodiazepine and narcotic pain reliever combination admissions is comparatively small relative to the annual number of treatment admissions, the report notes that substance abuse treatment programs are treating an increasing number of patients who co-abuse these drugs. SAMHSA’s data indicated that in the month prior to treatment admission, 61.2% of patients who reported benzodiazepine and narcotic pain reliever combination abuse at admission reported daily use of any substance compared with 34.6% of patients who did not report combination abuse at admission. SAMHSA notes that this high proportion of daily usage among patients abusing a combination of benzodiazepine and narcotic pain relievers suggests behavioral patterns that may be difficult to change.

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