Characterizing prescription benzodiazepine use among community-dwelling residents of Ontario, Canada

Benzodiazepines are a widely prescribed class of medications used primarily for the treatment of anxiety, sleep disorders, and certain forms of epilepsy. Despite the common use of prescription benzodiazepines on a population-level, as well as the risks of long-term benzodiazepine use and combined use with opioids, there is a lack of data regarding the prevalence of benzodiazepine prescribing and duration of use among younger age groups and people living in the community. This information is needed to inform guidelines and initiatives aimed at supporting safe and appropriate benzodiazepine prescribing.

Therefore, the ODPRN Citizens’ Panel proposed this project on benzodiazepine use as a topic that would be of relevance to policymakers, researchers, and the public. The objective of this project was to examine trends and patterns in prescription benzodiazepine use in Ontario, describe characteristics of Ontarians with new benzodiazepine use and indications for treatment, and explore patterns of benzodiazepine and opioid co-prescribing.