April 6, 2010 -- More people are landing in the hospital because of poisoning from prescription tranquilizers, sedatives, and opioids, a new study finds.
Hospitalizations for such poisonings increased 65% between 1999 and 2006. That’s double the increase in hospitalizations for poisoning by other drugs and substances, researchers say. The study appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Opioids can produce a feeling of euphoria, leading to their recreational use. Tranquilizers and sedatives reduce tension and anxiety and can induce sleep.
“Deaths and hospitalizations associated with prescription drug misuse have reached epidemic proportions,” study author Jeffrey H. Coben, MD, of West Virginia University School of Medicine, says in a news release. Prescription drugs, he says, "are just as powerful and dangerous as other notorious street drugs, and we need to ensure people are aware of these dangers and that treatment services are available for those with substance abuse problems.”
Coben says the largest increase in the number of hospitalized cases over the seven-year period involved poisonings by benzodiazepines, and the largest percentage increase was observed for methadone, at 400%, the authors write.