Benzos are highly addictive and dangerous drugs. They are prescription drugs which makes them readily available to thousands.
The abuse and overdoses of benzo drugs has steadily risen in recent years. These stats highlight how big of a problem they have become.
National Statistics on Benzos
Reports from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, shows:
- About 30.5 million people use benzodiazepines.
- Out of the 30.5 million users, around 2.1% abuse them.
- About 0.2% have a benzodiazepine use disorder.
- Almost 12% of individuals take benzos to get high.
- About 25% claim to use benzos to help them get better sleep, deal with stress or reduce tension.
- Only 20% of benzo addicts get them from their doctor, showing that a large amount are purchased illegally.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has a lot of data to show how often benzos are abused. They state that everyday around 115 people die from opioid overdoses in the US. Around 1/3 of those overdoses also include benzos use. Many people using benzos have them from prescriptions.
These are often written as a treatment for anxiety disorders and sleeping issues. Benzos combined with opioid prescriptions can create a very high risk of overdose.
More benzo abuse data:
- Increased access to the drug is a key reason for higher overdoses. From 1996 through 2013, the latest date for this statistic, the number of benzo prescriptions grew from 8.1 million to 13.5 million per year. That is a 67% rate of growth.
- The amount of benzos prescribed also increased, from 1.1 kilograms to 3.6 kilograms of lorazepam-equivalents per 100,000 adults.
- The number of people dying from benzo overdose increased over sevenfold during this time.
A lot of people are prescribed both benzos and opioids at the same time. This is a very dangerous combination and is likely related to the increasing number of benzo overdose deaths. The chance of death is significantly higher for individuals using both drugs at the same time.
Prescription Statistics in Treatment
There are currently 15 benzodiazepines approved for medical use by the FDA in the United States. But there are actually over 2,000 different types of benzodiazepines. Because of the frequency in which they are prescribed benzos are a very common drug.
Some different case studies have shown a drastic change in how benzos are prescribed. There has been a trend of more primary care physicians prescribing benzos to their patients. The use of these drugs has more than doubled from 2005 to 2015.
The rate psychiatrists prescribed benzodiazepines hardly increased in the same period of time. This change could shine light on the increased rate of overdoses. As benzos were found to be commonly prescribed with other medications for sedation.
Global Popularity of Benzos
Benzos are very popular across the globe. The use rates are on average with the use in the United States. They are prescribed for treating anxiety disorders, seizures, sleeping problems, and assisting in withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. The most common are:
- Klonopin (Clonazepam)
- Xanax (Alprazolam)
- Valium (Diazepam)
- Halcion (Triazolam)
- Ativan (Lorazepam)
- Restoril (Temazepam)
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Why Are Statistics for Benzos Changing?
The surge in benzo use has caused another drug epidemic in the US. That has been a large change in the information and data on the drug since its inception. They only slightly fall below the risk and overdose rates of opioids. The opioid crisis has been plaguing the US for many years now.
As more and more patients go to their family doctor looking for help with anxiety and insomnia combined with other mental health solutions. There has been a drastic increase in benzo prescriptions.
Because of this increase the availability of benzos has also increased. Making the drug far easier to access.
The trend of family doctors prescribing benzos instead of psychiatrists leads many to believe that individuals receiving the drugs are not getting proper additional treatment.
This lack of additional treatment can cause the problem the individual was originally prescribed benzos to worsen over time or directly because of the use of benzos.
Demographics and Benzo Abuse Facts
Benzos are most frequently abused by adults. But they are prescribed to all age groups including children. The most abused by each sex were as follows. Ativan was the most likely benzo to be abused by men. While Lormetazepam was the most likely for women. Women are also much more likely to be long term users.
Understanding Benzo Abuse Facts
Benzos are becoming more and more commonly used to treat anxiety and other mental disorders. While a lot of individuals are getting these drugs from prescriptions. There is a very large number of people obtaining them illegally and abusing them. Benzodiazepines are quickly becoming a major public health crisis following on the heels of opioids.
While not as deadly in terms of overdoses as opioids, benzos can be extremely dangerous.