Home > Problem benzodiazepine use in Ireland: treament (2003 to 2008) and deaths (1998 to 2007)

[Health Research Board] , Bellerose, Delphine and Lyons, Suzi and Carew, Anne Marie and Walsh, Simone and Long, Jean Problem benzodiazepine use in Ireland: treament (2003 to 2008) and deaths (1998 to 2007). (15 Dec 2010)

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External website: https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/14287/

There has been an increase in the number of cases* presenting for treatment, and people dying, as a result of misuse of sedatives (benzodiazepines), such as diazepam, in recent years.

The latest figures presented by the Health Research Board (HRB) indicate that the annual number of cases treated for problem benzodiazepine use has increased by just over 63%, from 1,054 in 2003 to 1,719 in 2008. These prescription drugs were also implicated in nearly one third of all deaths by drug poisoning between 1998 and 2007, with the annual number of deaths, rising from 65 in 1998 to 88 in 2007.

According to Dr Suzi Lyons, senior researcher at the HRB, the increases could reflect a combination of factors: an increase in the number of available treatment places, an increase in use of this drug in the population or an increase in the number of treatment centres reporting to the HRB National Drug Treatment Reporting System.

‘Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs which are legitimately used to treat a range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures. However, while they are considered safe for short term use, the risk of overuse, abuse and dependence is well documented. There also needs to be a greater awareness among prescribers and users of the potentially fatal effects of benzodiazepines when used with other substances,’ says Dr Lyons.


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