A new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests that non-medical use (NMU) of alprazolam, although less common than NMU of diazepam, is a significant issue in the UK, and the prevalence seems to be more in younger adults.
The study also highlights that the majority of individuals are taking alprazolam without a prescription for non-medical reasons and therefore are very likely not to go for any medical advice prior to use.
Researchers investigated the epidemiology of alprazolam vs diazepam NMU through data collected via the online Survey of Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs (NMURx), which included 10,019 respondents.
The results revealed that the estimated national prevalence of lifetime NMU of alprazolam was 0.32% (95% CI, 0.19-0.46) and diazepam 1.30% (95% CI, 1.06-1.54). Alprazolam NMU was more common among younger (prevalence estimate of 0.37% for 16-24 years, 0.14% for age 25-34 years and 0.01% for ≥35 years). The prevalence of recent NMU (last 90 days) was significantly different when split by age category for alprazolam (P<.001 but not for diazepam>
The authors call for further research to explore the motivations for and appeal of alprazolam for NMU among young adults which will enable appropriate public health interventions to prevent short-term toxicity and long-term dependence among young adults who are regularly using alprazolam.