Misuse of prescription sedatives is a significant problem for addiction treatment services. The aim of this study was to examine the prescribing of diazepam in disadvantaged Irish communities, and to identify factors which may predict diazepam consumption in that population. We examined prescribing trends for those aged 16–69 years in 2002 in a region of the state-funded General Medical Services Scheme. Material deprivation was based on the 2002 Small Area Health Research Unit (SAHRU) deprivation index. The average defined daily dose (DDD) was calculated and logistic regression analysis was used to predict diazepam use by age, gender and deprivation index. Results showed that patients living in the most-deprived areas were more likely to receive diazepam than patients living in the least-deprived areas (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.15–1.27). Female patients living in the most-deprived areas were also more likely to receive diazepam than those living in the least-deprived areas (OR = 1.36, 95% CI 1.18–1.57). It is concluded that there is a pattern of higher diazepam prescribing in areas of greatest deprivation, where prescription sedatives play a complex role within troubled families.

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