Health service utilization and benzodiazepine use among heroin users: findings from the Australian Treatment Outcome Study (ATOS)
ABSTRACT To determine levels of health service utilization among heroin users, the types of prescription drugs obtained by heroin users and the contribution of benzodiazepine use in health service utilization and prescribed drug use.
A total of 615 current heroin users recruited for the Australian Treatment Outcome Study (ATOS).
Sixty per cent of subjects had consulted a general practitioner (GP) and 7% a specialist in the preceding month. An ambulance had attended 11% of subjects in the preceding month. Forty-eight per cent of subjects had prescriptions dispensed for medication in the preceding month. Thirty-nine per cent of participants had prescriptions dispensed for psychotropic medications, representing 80% of all prescriptions. Twenty per cent of subjects had prescriptions dispensed for non-psychotropic medications (20% of prescriptions). The most commonly prescribed drugs were benzodiazepines (59% of prescriptions), which had been obtained by 30% of subjects. Benzodiazepine users had more GP and psychiatrist visits, were more likely to have had an ambulance attendance and had significantly more dispensed prescriptions.
There were high levels of health utilization among heroin users. Prescription drug use was common, and dominated by psychotropic drugs. Benzodiazepine use was a dominant factor in the use of services and in prescriptions dispensed. Despite increased awareness of the harms associated with benzodiazepines, they continue to be prescribed widely to heroin users.
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ABSTRACT: This paper reviews studies examining the pharmacological interactions and epidemiology of the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines (BZDs). A search of English language publications from 1970 to 2012 was conducted using PubMed and PsycINFO(®). Our search found approximately 200 articles appropriate for inclusion in this paper. While numerous reports indicate that the co-abuse of opioids and BZDs is ubiquitous around the world, the reasons for the co-abuse of these medications are not entirely clear. Though the possibility remains that opioid abusers are using BZDs therapeutically to self-medicate anxiety, mania or insomnia, the data reviewed in this paper suggest that BZD use is primarily recreational. For example, co-users report seeking BZD prescriptions for the purpose of enhancing opioid intoxication or "high," and use doses that exceed the therapeutic range. Since there are few clinical studies investigating the pharmacological interaction and abuse liability of their combined use, this hypothesis has not been extensively evaluated in clinical settings. As such, our analysis encourages further systematic investigation of BZD abuse among opioid abusers. The co-abuse of BZDs and opioids is substantial and has negative consequences for general health, overdose lethality, and treatment outcome. Physicians should address this important and underappreciated problem with more cautious prescribing practices, and increased vigilance for abusive patterns of use.Drug and alcohol dependence 08/2012; 125(1-2):8-18. DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.07.004 · 3.28 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To examine differences in the characteristics and histories of male and female dependent heroin users, and in the clinical characteristics associated with multiple substance dependence diagnoses. 1513 heroin dependent participants underwent an interview covering substance use and dependence, psychiatric history, child maltreatment, family background, adult violence and criminal history. Family background, demographic and clinical characteristics were analysed by sex. Ordinal regression was used to test for a relationship between number of substance dependence diagnoses and other clinical variables. Women were more likely to experience most forms of child maltreatment, to first use heroin with a boyfriend or partner, to experience ongoing adult violence at the hands of a partner, and to have a poorer psychiatric history than men. Males had more prevalent lifetime substance dependence diagnoses and criminal histories and were more likely to meet the criteria for ASPD. Predictors of multiple substance dependence diagnoses for both sexes were mental health variables, antisocial behaviour, childhood sexual abuse, victim of adult violence, younger age at first cannabis use and overdose. As the number of dependence diagnoses increased, clinical and behavioural problems increased. Childhood emotional neglect was related to increasing dependence diagnoses for females but not males, whereas PTSD was a significant predictor for males but not females. Mental health problems, other substance dependence, childhood and adult trauma were common in this sample, with sex differences indicating different treatment needs and possible different pathways to heroin dependence for men and women.Addictive behaviors 01/2011; 36(1-2):27-36. DOI:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.08.008 · 2.44 Impact Factor