Launch of research findings on the use of sedatives, tranquilisers and anti-depressants

Alex White TD, Minister for Primary Care and Drugs, today (23rd October, 2012) welcomed the findings from the third National Drug Prevalence Survey (2010/11) on sedatives, tranquilisers and anti-depressants. The survey was released today by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs on their website: http://nacd.ie/images/stories/docs/publicationa/bulletin6.pdf.

Seven per cent of the adult population (aged 15-64) reported that they use sedatives and tranquilisers in the last year compared to 5 per cent reporting this in the previous Drug Prevalence Survey carried out in 2006/7.

Last year use of anti-depressants was relatively stable amongst all survey respondents at 5 per cent among 15-64 year olds in 2010/11 compared to 4 per cent in 2006/7.

Women and older adults (aged 35-64) are more likely to use sedatives, tranquilisers and anti-depressants. At the same time, the survey also shows increasing use of these substances amongst men and amongst 15-34 year olds.

The survey found a consistent relationship between high prevalence rates for these drugs and indicators of low socio-economic status such as dependency on the State, local authority housing and early school leaving.

Minister White acknowledged that “appropriate use of sedatives, tranquilisers and anti-depressants play an important role in facilitating the health and well-being of many people” but added that “I am concerned about the health risks associated with their inappropriate or long-term use and their more widespread availability".

He continued: "the survey findings will further inform my Department in the review of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations with a view to imposing additional controls on benzodiazepine and z-drugs. The legislative amendments being considered include the introduction of an offence of unauthorised possession as well as import and export controls on such drugs. It is also proposed to tighten the prescribing and dispensing rules applying to these drugs".

Minister White indicated that he hopes to bring forward the legislative proposals in the near future.