While benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs that are used to treat a variety of medical issues, benzodiazepine use can cause poisonings and other adverse symptoms when combined with other drugs or taken in large doses.
In Australia, benzodiazepines are the second most common class of drugs involved in drug induced deaths and 97% of drug induced deaths involving benzodiazepines also involved the use of other drugs, such as alcohol. While young people aged between 15 to 24 remained the least common group to experience drug induced death, this age group has worryingly seen an increase in the rate of deaths between 2018 and 2019 and this was reported to be driven by young males.
Concerns around the non-medical use of benzodiazepines are further compounded by the circulation of counterfeit benzodiazepines in the Australian illicit drug market. The difficulty in detecting these counterfeit products means that people using non-prescribed benzodiazepines may be consuming these substances thinking they are genuine pharmaceutical products.
This bulletin examines past six month use of non-prescribed benzodiazepines among people who use ecstasy and/or other illicit stimulants in NSW, stratified by age and gender. The bulletin also explores the intentional and recent use of benzodiazepine analogues, and the involvement of benzodiazepines in overdoses and drug binges.