Opioid and benzodiazepine misuse in the United States: The impact of socio-demographic characteristics

Mohammad Rifat Haider, Jayani Jayawardhana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: In 2021, drug overdose deaths in the United States reached a new record of 107,622. Misuse of opioids and benzodiazepines accounts for a large portion of drug overdose deaths. However, the effects of socio-demographic characteristics on misuse of opioids and benzodiazepines are not evident. Thus, this study examines the socio-demographic characteristics associated with misuse of opioids and benzodiazepines among adults in the United States. Methods: Data from 2015–2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health was utilized in the multinomial logistic regression analysis and included 202,935 adults ages ≥18 years. Results: During 2015–2019, 3.3% of the adults misused opioids, 1.2% misused benzodiazepines, and 0.9% misused both drugs in the preceding year of the survey. Those who were younger, bisexual, non-Hispanic White, had a history of delinquency in the past year, had alcohol dependence/abuse, marijuana dependence/abuse, nicotine dependence and use, and experienced major depressive episodes were more likely to misuse opioids, benzodiazepines, or both. Conclusion and Scientific Significance: A large portion of US adults are misusing opioids, benzodiazepines, and both drugs. Specifically, bisexual individuals experience higher odds of opioid misuse, benzodiazepine misuse and misuse of both drugs compared with heterosexuals, while males are experiencing lower odds of benzodiazepine misuse compared with females. Individuals aged 26–49 experience the highest odds of opioid misuse, though misuse of both drugs was higher among the 18–25 age group. Findings underscore the use of targeted preventive measures to reduce misuse of these drugs among at-risk populations identified in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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