Treatment admissions for people addicted to both benzodiazepines and narcotic pain relievers jumped 569.7 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a new government report.
Overall, substance abuse treatment admissions increased 4 percent over the same period.
The report, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found 33,701 people received treatment for addiction to both medications in 2010, Science Daily reports.
"Clearly, the rise in this form of substance abuse is a public health problem that all parts of the treatment community need to be aware of," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. "When patients are battling severe withdrawal effects from two addictive drugs, new treatment strategies may be needed to meet this challenge. These findings will help us better understand the nature and scope of this problem and to develop better approaches to address it."
According to the report, 38.7 percent of those with this combined addiction began using both drugs in the same year, while 34.1 percent first became addicted to narcotic pain relievers, and 27.1 percent started with benzodiazepines.
Almost half of patients treated for the combined addiction also had a psychiatric disorder. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 91.4 percent of combination treatment admissions. Women accounted for 49.2 percent of such admissions, and people ages 18 to 34 represented 66.9 percent of those treated.
Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused category of drugs, behind alcohol and marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Some prescription drugs can become addictive, especially when used in a manner inconsistent with their labeling by someone other than the patient for whom they were prescribed, or when taken in a manner or dosage other than prescribed. Overall, an estimated 48 million people have abused prescription drugs, representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population. Click here to learn more.