Increasing benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality in the United States, 1996-2013

Marcus A. Bachhuber, Sean Hennessy, Chinazo O. Cunningham, Joanna L. Starrels

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

132 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives.To describe trends in benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality involving benzodiazepines among US adults. Methods.We examined data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and multiplecause-of-death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results. Between 1996 and 2013, the percentage of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased from 4.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.8%, 4.5%) to 5.6% (95% CI = 5.2%, 6.1%), with an annual percent change of 2.5% (95% CI = 2.1%, 3.0%). The quantity of benzodiazepines filled increased from 1.1 (95% CI = 0.9, 1.2) to 3.6 (95% CI = 3.0, 4.2) kilogram lorazepam equivalents per 100 000 adults (annual percent change = 9.0%;95%CI = 7.6%, 10.3%).The overdose death rate increased from 0.58 (95% CI = 0.55, 0.62) to 3.07 (95% CI = 2.99, 3.14) per 100 000 adults, with a plateau seen after 2010. Conclusions. Benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality have increased considerably. Fatal overdoses involving benzodiazepines have plateaued overall; however, no evidence of decreases was found in any group. Interventions to reduce the use of benzodiazepines or improve their safety are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-688
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume106
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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