Substance abuse treatment admissions for addiction involving combined use of benzodiazepine and narcotic pain relievers increased a total of 569.7 percent, to 33,701, from 2000 to 2010, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Overall substance abuse treatment admissions of people ages 12 and older in the same period rose 4 percent, to 1.82 million, the agency said.
“Clearly, the rise in this form of substance abuse is a public health problem that all parts of the treatment community need to be aware of,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “When patients are battling severe withdrawal effects from two addictive drugs, new treatment strategies may be needed to meet this challenge. These findings will help us better understand the nature and scope of this problem and to develop better approaches to address it.”
The report showed that 38.7 percent of those with this combined addiction began use of both drugs in the same year; 34.1 percent first used narcotic pain relievers, and the remaining 27.1 percent started with benzodiazepines. Almost half of patients admitted for combined use also had a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, were largely self-referred, and were less likely to receive regular outpatient treatment than other admissions.