Increasing Availability of Benzodiazepines Among People Who Inject Drugs in a Canadian Setting

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Walton G, Dong H, Milloy M-J, DeBeck K, Kerr T, Wood E, Hayashi K. (2017). Increasing availability of benzodiazepines among people who inject drugs in a Canadian setting. Substance Abuse

Date created: 
DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2017.1356798
People who inject drugs
Healthcare providers

Background: Benzodiazepine misuse is associated with mortality and is common among people who inject drugs (PWID). This study aimed to examine the temporal trends in the availability of benzodiazepines among PWID in a Canadian setting, and to identify factors associated with more immediate access to benzodiazepines.

Methods: Data were derived from three prospective cohorts of PWID in Vancouver, Canada, between June 2012 and May 2015. The primary outcome was the perceived availability of benzodiazepines, measured in three levels: not available, delayed availability (available in ≥10 min), and immediate availability (available in <10 min). We used multivariable generalized estimating equations to identify factors associated with availability of benzodiazepines.

Results: In total, 1641 individuals were included in these analyses. In multivariable analyses, factors associated with immediate benzodiazepine availability included incarceration (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 1.42, 95% CI1.06, 1.89) and participation in methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) (AOR: 1.35, 95% CI 1.14, 1.60). Factors associated with delayed benzodiazepine availability included incarceration (AOR: 1.45, 95% CI 1.02, 2.07) and MMT (AOR: 1.77, 95% CI 1.48, 2.12). Benzodiazepine availability increased throughout the study period for both immediate (AOR: 1.14, 95% CI 1.10, 1.18 per 6-month follow-up period) and delayed availability (AOR: 1.17, 95% CI 1.12, 1.22 per 6-month follow-up period).

Conclusions: Among our sample of PWID, benzodiazepine availability is increasing and was associated with health and criminal justice system characteristics. Our findings indicate a need to examine prescribing practices and educate both PWID and healthcare providers about the risks associated with benzodiazepine use.

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