The contribution of injecting drug users in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to rising benzodiazepine use in Australia 2000 to 2006


Correspondence to:
Dr Alesha Smith, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072. Fax: (07) 3346 1999; e-mail:


Objective: To determine whether the increased utilisation of benzodiazepines in Australia from 2000 to 2006 could be accounted for by the increased use of benzodiazepines among those who inject heroin

Method: Areas known to have high numbers of injecting drug users, (IDU) in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia were identified. Data were obtained from the Medicare and the Drug Utilization Sub-Committee databases on all benzodiazepines dispensed to concession beneficiaries in the chosen areas and Australia as a whole. The utilisation of benzodiazepines was calculated in defined daily dose per 1000 (DDD/1000) beneficiaries and for IDU/day using the estimated numbers of IDU, from 2000-2006.

Results: The utilisation of benzodiazepines increased by 22% for all Australian concession beneficiaries but in areas with a high proportion of IDU, the utilisation of benzodiazepines decreased.

Conclusions: In areas known to have a high proportion of IDU, the concession beneficiary use of benzodiazepines was estimated to be largely accounted for IDU usage. However, the overall increase in benzodiazepine utilisation by Australian concession beneficiaries from 2000 to 2006 was not primarily driven by use among IDU who only accounted for a small proportion of total benzodiazepines use.

Implications: It appears that sub-groups of the populations, other than IDU may be responsible for the increase in benzodiazepine use by concession beneficiaries.