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Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Study finds benzodiazepines for sleep increased overdose risk for young adults

New findings from a recent study in JAMA Network Open suggest that benzodiazepines—compared with alternative pharmacologic treatments for common sleep disorders—were associated with an increased risk of drug overdose among young people, especially those with a recent opioid prescription.

The cohort study included privately insured people 10 to 29 years of age identified from a U.S. commercial claims database. Of the 23,084 young people initiating benzodiazepine treatment and the 66,706 initiating a comparator treatment, the risk of drug overdose in the 6 months after treatment start was elevated for young people starting benzodiazepine treatment compared with alternative treatments (e.g., trazodone, hydroxyzine, zolpidem, zaleplon, and eszopiclone) for sleep disorders. This risk was further heightened for young people with a recent opioid prescription, according to the results.

Although benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed, even for young people, they are recommended less frequently for insomnia among children than among adults given the lack of efficacy and safety data for younger age groups. When benzodiazepines are prescribed for any age group, short-term treatment is recommended.

“Drug overdose is an important safety consideration when treating young people with benzodiazepines,” noted the study authors.

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