Prescription tranquilizer/sedative misuse prevalence and correlates across age cohorts in the US.Addict Behav. 2018 12; 87:24-32.AB
Prescription tranquilizer/sedative (e.g., alprazolam, zolpidem) misuse (i.e., use in ways not intended by the prescriber or without a prescription) is understudied, with little research identifying misuse correlates. Identification of key correlates could identify subgroups more likely to engage in misuse, allowing for targeted treatment. This work examines tranquilizer/sedative use and misuse prevalence rates and misuse correlates across U.S. age cohorts, using nationally representative data.
Data were from the 2015-16 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (n = 114,043). Analyses used design-based logistic regression for past-year tranquilizer/sedative misuse correlates across participants or those engaged in past-year use; past-month misuse correlates were also examined in those with past-year misuse.
Young adults (18-25 years) had the highest prevalence of past-year and past-month tranquilizer/sedative misuse, with 42.8% of those with past-year use also engaged in misuse. Mental health correlates were associated with past-year misuse, while substance use, particularly opioid misuse, was associated with both past-year and past-month misuse. Substance use correlate strength was most likely to vary by age group, with older adults (65 years and older) having fewer significant correlates overall.
This work highlighted young adults and those with other substance use as most likely to engage in tranquilizer/sedative misuse. In particular, those endorsing suicidality and reporting opioid misuse are a subgroup of concern, given their especially elevated rates of misuse and the increased risk for overdose imparted by tranquilizer/sedative medication. Workplace-based interventions for young adults and school-based universal prevention may be warranted to limit tranquilizer/sedative misuse in these groups.