Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat psychological distress, in particular anxiety and panic disorders, and insomnia. Research has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to elevated psychological distress and in some countries an increase in the prescription of benzodiazepines. Less is known about the changes in the use of non-prescribed benzodiazepines throughout the pandemic and whether there has been any change of the characteristics of people using these studies.
We used data from a sample of people who regularly inject illicit drugs in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, to examine:
i) Trends in the prescribed and non-prescribed benzodiazepine use from 2007-2021
ii) Characteristics associated with non-prescribed benzodiazepine use in 2019 (‘pre COVID’), 2020 (during the first wave of COVID) and 2021 (after the majority of the restrictions were lifted).