Admissions for treatment of benzodiazepine abuse nearly tripled in the United States between 1998 and 2008, while overall admissions for substance abuse rose only 11 percent, according to a government study released Thursday.
Benzodiazepines -- a class of drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizure disorders -- include Valium, Halcion, Xanax, Ativan and Librium. Abuse of benzodiazepines, which were introduced in the 1950s to replace barbiturates, can lead to addiction, injury and death.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study found that admissions for treatment of benzodiazepine abuse among patients 12 and older rose from 22,400 in 1998 to 60,200 a decade later. Benzodiazepine-related admissions accounted for 3.2 percent of all substance abuse admissions in 2008, compared with 1.3 percent in 1998.