CAHSS Faculty Articles

Diversion of Benzodiazepines through Healthcare Sources


0000-0002-1626-0881, 0000-0002-1714-5834

Publication Title

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs



Publication Date



Background—Benzodiazepines (BZ) are often diverted from legal sources to illicit markets at various points in the distribution process which begins with a pharmaceutical manufacturer, followed by distribution to healthcare providers, and finally, to the intended users. Little is known about the extent of BZ diversion involving distribution points directly related to healthcare sources (e.g., a script doctor) as opposed to points further down the distribution chain (e.g., street dealers). The present study examines the scope of BZ diversion via mechanisms directly related to a healthcare source. It examines the association between BZ dependence and the direct utilization of particular healthcare-related diversion sources among a diverse sample of prescription drug abusers in South Florida.

Method—Cross-sectional data were collected from five different groups of drug users: methadone-maintenance clients (n = 247), street drug users (n = 238), public-pay treatment clients (n = 246), private-pay treatment clients (n = 228), and stimulant using men who have sex with men (MSM; n = 248).

Results—Findings suggest that those ages 26 to 35 years old, non-Hispanic White participants, private-pay treatment clients, those who are insured, and those with higher incomes had higher odds of utilizing healthcare diversion sources. Participants utilized a pharmacy as a diversion source more than other healthcare sources of diversion, and the highest number of BZs were obtained from doctor shopping compared to other diversion sources. Those who reported BZ dependence also had 2.5 times greater odds of using a healthcare source to obtain BZs than those who did not meet criteria for dependence.

Discussion—Prevention of BZ diversion through healthcare sources should include strategies to reduce doctor shopping and diversion from pharmacies.


10.1080/ 02791072.2013.764232





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