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Researchers found that 42 percent of youth with benzodiazepine overdoses obtained a prescription in the previous six months compared to 39 percent with a prescription for a stimulant in the same period.
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Many young Americans who overdosed on common mental health drugs had a recent prescription, according to a new study.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Pediatrics, used a U.S. commercial claims database of privately insured teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 from 2016 and 2018, to determine the number young people overdosing on prescriptions for benzodiazepines (BZD), like Xanax, or psychostimulants, such as Adderall.
“Given that a substantial proportion of youth with overdoses involving BZD or stimulants have prescriptions for these drugs in the prior months, physician encounters when these medications are prescribed may offer an opportunity to identify youth at high risk of overdose,” Greta Bushnell, a corresponding author from the Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Treatment Sciences at Rutgers Institute for Health, said in a press release.
Researchers found that 42 percent of youth with BZD overdoses obtained a prescription in the previous six months compared to 39 percent with a prescription for a stimulant in the same period.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited by the research team shows 727 youth died of overdoses involving (BZDs) and 902 from psychostimulant overdoses in 2019.
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Meanwhile, young people with intentional overdoses from BZD’s or stimulants were also more likely to have obtained recent prescriptions.
“These findings highlight the need for physicians to assess youth for self-injury risk who are prescribed BZDs and stimulants, as well as the need for varying efforts to prevent intentional and unintentional overdoses,” Bushnell continued.
“Further, since the potential for harm with BZDs and stimulants increases with other substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs, and opioids, discussions around limiting concurrent substance use is warranted,” Bushnell said.
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“These data suggest that we’re now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope.”
In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, about half of Americans indicated they think the pandemic is only “somewhat under control.”
“Black women with persistently high frequency and high stress related to racism had the highest risk for depressive symptoms in adulthood,” one of the study’s co-authors said.
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