Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 12, pp 2717–2719 | Cite as

Benzodiazepine Use in the USA Is Driven by Long-term Users: a Repeated Cross-sectional Study of MEPS 2002–2016

  • Michael E. JohansenEmail author
  • Joshua D. Niforatos
Concise Research Reports


Benzodiazepines can be an effective short-term adjunct for psychiatric conditions managed in the outpatient setting.1 Recent studies on benzodiazepine prescribing reveal increases in concurrent opioid prescribing2 and prescribing in the ambulatory setting.3 Other reports document increase overdose mortality from benzodiazepines over the past decade secondary to concurrent opioid use.4 Despite this, less is known about how individuals use benzodiazepines over time. Without knowing how individuals use this medication, the abovementioned measures may overestimate benzodiazepine use. We thus sought to describe benzodiazepine use among the adult population using longitudinal cohort data.


A repeated cross-sectional study was conducted using the 2002–2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).5MEPS is an annual survey that is nationally representative of the noninstitutionalized US population and collects demographics, self-reported medical conditions, health...


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The OhioHealth Institutional Review Board ruled the study to be exempt.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Locke AB, Kirst N, Shultz C. Diagnosis and management of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2015;91:617–24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ladapo JA, Larochelle MR, Chen A, et al. Physician prescribing of opioids to patients at increased risk of overdose from benzodiazepine use in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75:623–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Agarwal SD, Landon BE. Patterns in outpatient benzodiazepine prescribing in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2:e187399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose Death Rates. Revised January 2019. Available at Accessed April 4, 2019.
  5. 5.
    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends MEPS HC-181: 2016 Full Year Consolidated Data File. Published August 2018. Accessed January 2019.
  6. 6.
    Kroll DS, Nieva HR, Barsky AJ, Linder JA. Benzodiazepines are prescribed more frequently to patients already at risk for benzodiazepine-related adverse events in primary care. J Gen Int Med. 2016;31:1027–1034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grant Family Medicine, Ohio HealthColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio UniversityDublinUSA
  3. 3.Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of MedicineCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations