Non-medical use of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in the United Kingdom.

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2020 May 30;:

Authors: Hockenhull J, Black JC, Haynes CM, Rockhill K, Dargan PI, Dart RC, Wood DM

AIM: To estimate prevalence of last 12-month non-medical use (NMU) of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs (the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone) in the United Kingdom.
METHODS: Data were collected using the Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs survey with post-stratification weighting applied to be representative of the UK population (≥16 years). Participants were questioned about whether they had non-medically used benzodiazepines and/or Z-drugs in the last 12-months and from where they had obtained the drug (including via a prescription, or illicitly from a friend/family member, a dealer, or via the internet). Additional questions were asked about last 12-month use of illicit drugs (cannabis, cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), non-pharmaceutical amphetamine, ‘crack cocaine’ and/or heroin).
RESULTS: The study included 10,006 eligible participants representing approximately 52,927,000 UK adults. The estimated prevalence of past 12-month NMU of any benzodiazepine and/or Z-drug was 1.2% (95% CI:1.0-1.5) corresponding to approximately 635,000 adults; amongst this group only an estimated 4.6% (1.2-8.0) had NMU of both a benzodiazepine and a Z-drug. The highest prevalence of NMU for only Z-drugs was among those who had used heroin in the last 12-months (5.4%,2.7-10.5), whilst the highest prevalence of NMU for only benzodiazepines was among those who had used illicit stimulants in the last 12-months: cocaine (5.9%,3.8-8.9), amphetamine (5.6%,3.1-10.0), and MDMA (5.2%,3.1-8.8). The drug was more commonly acquired without than with a prescription for both only benzodiazepines (70.2%,59.4-81.1 compared to 51.3%,41.5-64.6) and only Z-drugs (75.6%,61.6-89.7 compared to 33.9%,16.9-51.0).
CONCLUSION: There is little overlap between benzodiazepine and Z-drug NMU suggesting distinct groups non-medically using the drugs; future studies need to explore whether this relates to personal preference, drug availability or other factors. A significant proportion are acquiring these drugs for NMU without a prescription, so without guidance and monitoring from a medical practitioner. While the dangers of mixing benzodiazepines and heroin/other opioids are well documented, there is a paucity of data regarding concomitant NMU of benzodiazepines and stimulant drugs, or NMU of Z-drugs and opioids, and given the prevalence of these combinations this requires further investigation.

PMID: 32472941 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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