University of Tasmania
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Benzodiazepine use and criminal activity : a case-crossover study

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:18 authored by Lethbridge, HP
The relationship between drug use and crime has been well-established in the literature among groups of illicit recreational substances. There is a paucity of literature investigating the misuse of prescribed pharmaceutical drugs and their contribution to the drug crime link. Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription anxiolytic drugs commonly used to treat anxiety. A small body of research suggests that the misuse of high potency benzodiazepines (e.g., alprazolam) can be positively associated with criminality. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between benzodiazepine use and criminal activity among a sample of 82 offenders. A case-crossover design was utilised whereby substance use in the 12-24 hours prior to a crime event (hazard period) was compared with substance use in the 28 days prior to the same crime event (control period). Incidence Rate Ratios were calculated using multilevel mixed-effects negative binomial regression models to determine if there was an increased likelihood that benzodiazepine use in the hazard period was associated with criminal activity. After controlling for baseline alprazolam use, demographics, psychosocial factors, and general crime engagement, participants were 62% more likely to commit a crime if they had used alprazolam in the hazard period, IRR = 1.62, 95% CI [1.17-2.24], p = 0.003. There were non-significant positive associations between diazepam, other illicit substances and criminal activity and non-significant negative associations between methadone, temazepam, and criminal activity. These findings suggest there may be a strong and unique positive association between alprazolam use and criminal activity. This has important implications for individuals who are prescribed alprazolam or taking the drug recreationally within an offending population, as consumption may place them at greater risk for criminal engagement. This research also has implications for the ease of access to alprazolam prescriptions.


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Copyright 2019 the author

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