HealthDay News — A considerable proportion of youth with overdoses involving benzodiazepines (BZDs) or stimulants have recent prescriptions for these medications, according to a study published online March 2 in Pediatrics.

In an effort to inform overdose prevention efforts, Greta Bushnell, PhD, MSPH, from Health Care Policy and Aging Research in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues examined how often youth aged 15 to 24 years with medically treated overdoses involving BZDs and stimulants had recent BZD or stimulant prescriptions.

The researchers identified 2986 youth with an overdose involving BZDs and 971 who experienced an overdose involving stimulants (amphetamine or methylphenidate). Most of the youth had a previous mental health diagnosis; 56 and 40% of the overdoses involving BZDs and stimulants, respectively, were intentional. Among youth with overdoses involving BZDs, 29 and 42% had a prescription BZD in the previous 30 days and previous 6 months, respectively; 73% of those with a BZD prescription in the previous 6 months had an anxiety disorder diagnosis. For stimulants, the corresponding proportions were 25 and 39%; 71% of those with a stimulant prescription in the past 6 months had an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis. Youth with intentional BZD overdoses were more likely to have a recent BZD prescription (51 vs 30%), as were those with intentional stimulant overdoses (56 vs 28%).

“Because these drugs are commonly misused and involved in overdoses, weighing risks and benefits when prescribing them remains imperative,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text