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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Report shows increase in use of sedatives and anti-depressants

Women and older adults are more likely to use these substances, the latest National Drug Prevalence Survey revealed.

Image: Clover via Shutterstock

THE USE OF sedatives and anti-depressants has increased by 40 per cent in the last five years, according to a survey conducted by the National Advisory Committee in Drugs (NACD).

The National Drug Prevalence Survey found seven per cent of the adult population reported that they used sedatives and tranquillisers in the last year compared to five per cent reporting this in the previous survey in 2006/7.

Women and older adults aged 35-64 are more likely to use anti-depressants, sedatives and tranquillisers though the report also revealed an increase in use of these substances by men and among adults aged 15-34 years.

The survey found a consistent relationship between high prevalence rates for these drugs and indicators of low socio-economic status such as dependency on the State, local authority housing and early school leaving.

Respondents who were divorced, widowed or separated also reported higher prevalence rates for these substances and over 95 per cent got the drugs on prescription.

The average age at which respondents first took sedatives or tranquillisers in Ireland is 30 years.

Commenting on the findings, Minister for Primary Care and Drugs Alex White said “appropriate use of sedatives, tranquillisers and anti-depressants play an important role in facilitating the health and well-being of many people” but added that he was “concerned about the health risks associated with their inappropriate or long-term use and their more widespread availability”.

The Minister said legislative amendments were being considered include the introduction of an offence of unauthorised possession as well as import control on benzodiazepine and z-drugs. It is also proposed to tighten the prescribing and dispensing rules applying to these drugs.

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