Ativan Abuse Facts and Statistics
While data for the prescription use of benzodiazepines exists, because they are usually co-abused with opioids or other drugs, the prevalence of isolated benzodiazepine misuse is difficult to isolate. However, all data indicates that benzodiazepine abuse (including Ativan) is increasing at an alarming rate.
Data from rehab centers reported that admissions for benzodiazepine substance misuse (in the absence of other substance use disorders) increased by 109% from 2003 to 2013. During the same time period, prescriptions for benzodiazepines increased by 2.5% every year. As Ativan is of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines, it may be inferred that Ativan misuse makes up a substantial portion of overall benzodiazepine abuse.
Statistics for overall benzodiazepine prescriptions in the United States have identified the following:
- Prevalence in men: 3.6%
- Prevalence in women: 6.6%
- Prevalence in seniors: 8.45%
The increase in prescription rates for benzodiazepines to seniors is contrary to the American Geriatric Society’s strong recommendation that seniors avoid all benzodiazepines.
It should be noted that the data was published in 2015, and indications support that these numbers have since increased since then. Although accessible data is scarce, one 2018 publication found that 12.6% of adults used benzodiazepines, with 2.2% reporting misuse.
Prescription drug abuse among teenagers is difficult to estimate and available data are not always congruent. Data does suggest that overall misuse of prescription sedatives (including benzodiazepines) has fallen in recent years. Recent estimates of the prevalence of teen abuse of sedatives range from 0.1% (2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health) to 2.9% (2017 Monitoring the Future Survey).
Ativan Abuse and Treatment Trends in South Florida
Although data shows that overall benzodiazepine abuse in South Florida decreased by almost half between 2011 and 2015, non-fatal overdoses involving benzodiazepines occurred more frequently than non-fatal overdoses for heroin or opioids. However, whether benzodiazepine overdoses also involved other drugs was not reported. Moreover, Ativan (lorazepam) was not among the commonly abused benzodiazepines. Xanax (alprazolam) was the most commonly abused benzodiazepine in South Florida.
Treatment for benzodiazepine abuse (without concurrent substance use disorders) in South Florida also showed a decrease from 1.5% in 2012 to 0% in 2016. This may reflect an increase in treatment for polysubstance abuse and does not necessarily indicate that benzodiazepines are not a commonly treated substance of abuse.