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Sedative, tranquilizer misuse likely leads to future drug abuse: study

Xinhua,December 15, 2017 Adjust font size:

CHICAGO, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Misusing sedatives or tranquilizers signals a credible risk for the abuse of more addictive substances in the near future, a study of the University of Michigan (UM) School of Nursing's Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health shows.

UM researchers examined national data from nearly 35,000 American adults, first during a one-year period.

They began by looking at how many people were misusing sedatives, such as sleeping pills, or tranquilizers such as Valium, Xanax and muscle relaxers. Misuse includes taking too much of the medication, taking it longer than prescribed, or taking someone else's prescription.

The same people were re-interviewed three years later.

The researchers found that 76 percent of the people who were misusing sedatives and tranquilizers in the first year of inspection had stopped misusing those drugs three years later.

But, they further discovered that 45 percent of the people who had misused the sedatives and tranquilizers in the first year had a substance use disorder involving other substances, primarily alcohol, marijuana and opioids, three years later.

"Tranquilizers and sedatives are Schedule IV medications, which mean they are not believed to be as addictive as other drugs such as many opioids," said lead author Carol Boyd, professor of nursing and women's studies at UM.

"However, the worry should be this: sedative and tranquilizer misuse signals an increasing likelihood of developing an addiction to another drug," Boyd stressed.

The researchers found that young adults aged 18-25 were most at risk of developing a later alcohol or drug use disorder. Of the people in that age group who misused sedatives or tranquilizers in the first year of inspection, 60 percent of women and 67 percent of men had a substance use disorder involving other substances three years later.

And in all age groups, men were more likely to develop additional substance use disorders, the researchers found.

"Once you start using a potentially addictive medicine illegally, you're at a substantially higher risk of using other substances, and this raises the risk of addiction," said Boyd, adding "we have seen this phenomenon with the opioid analgesic epidemic" .

UM researchers also noted that it's very rare to find drug misusers including sedative and tranquilizer misusers who only partake in one substance.

"Most drug users are not single drug users. They misuse several substances and often co-ingest them. This puts misusers at risk for overdose, and even death," Boyd said

Tranquilizer and sedative prescriptions have increased in the U.S., and this study shows some of the consequences. Enditem