Sedative and tranquilliser use increases 40% in five years
THE USE of tranquillisers and sedatives is highest among professionals, senior management, top civil servants and people who are State dependent, a new survey has found.
The third National Drug Prevalence Survey also found women were more likely than men to take tranquillisers, sedatives or anti-depressants.
Produced by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, the survey asked people aged 15 to 64 about their use of the three types of drugs. More than 5,000 people in Ireland and 2,500 in Northern Ireland were surveyed.
Sedatives and tranquillisers, used to calm the brain and central nervous system, include benzodiazepines. Anti-depressants treat conditions such as low mood and include drugs such as Prozac.
The survey found 14 per cent of adults in Ireland had used sedatives or tranquillisers during their lifetime and 10 per cent had used anti-depressants. Some 7 per cent said they used sedatives and tranquillisers in the last year compared to 5 per cent in a previous report in 2007, a 40 per cent increase.
Some 18 per cent of professionals, senior managers and top civil servants reported use of sedatives and tranquillisers in their lifetime while the figure was 19 per cent for those on social welfare payments.
Semi-skilled and unskilled workers showed lower use of the drugs at just under 13 per cent. Students had the lowest rate at 9 per cent. However almost 16 per cent of those with third-level qualifications reported using these drugs in their lifetime compared with 11 per cent of people who finished their education at Leaving Certificate level.
The survey also showed the use of anti-depressants, sedatives or tranquillisers was higher among people in the 35 to 64 years category. The proportion of older people reporting lifetime use had also increased since the last survey in 2007.
A higher proportion of divorced, widowed and separated people had taken anti-depressants, sedatives or tranquillisers compared to those in other categories. Widowed people reported the highest rate of lifetime use of sedatives or tranquillisers at almost 30 per cent, while single people had the lowest rate of just over 11 per cent.
Northern Ireland figures showed a lifetime rate of sedative and tranquilliser use of 21 per cent among those surveyed, with anti-depressant use at 22 per cent. There was a similar pattern of higher use in women, older people and those who were divorced, separated or widowed.
Dr Fiona Weldon, clinical director at the Rutland Centre said she was not surprised by the findings. The addiction rehabilitation centre, based in Dublin, saw people from all socio-economic groups “trying to keep the show on the road”, she said.