NCATS-Supported Study Highlights Troubling Trend in Opioid Prescribing

Cindy Shebley/Flickr

(Flickr Photo/Cindy Shebley)

Medications known as benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks and other mental health issues. However, when benzodiazepines are prescribed along with opioids, a patient’s risk of opioid overdose can be as much as seven times higher than for a patient taking an opioid alone.

Supported in part through NCATS’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program, University of California, Los Angeles, researchers analyzed 13,146 reported medical visits from 2005 to 2015 that included a new opioid prescription. The results were published in the April 12, 2018, issue of JAMA Psychiatry and show that overall, first-time prescriptions for opioids have dropped significantly since 2010. But a troubling trend persists: Despite the higher risk of overdose, patients already taking benzodiazepines were more than twice as likely to receive a new prescription for opioids in 2015 than the general population. Learn more about this research.

Posted July 2018