Heavy use versus less heavy use of sedatives among non-medical sedative users: Characteristics and correlates

Prasanthi Nattala, Kit Sang Leung, Arbi Ben Abdallah, Linda B. Cottler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Non-medical use of sedatives is an ongoing problem. However, very little is known about the characteristics of individuals who use sedatives non-medically, or the motives behind such use. The present analysis, involving a sample of individuals reporting non-medical use of sedatives in the past 12 months (N= 188), examined the relationship between socio-demographic variables, past-year use of other licit and illicit drugs, type of non-medical use (use in ways other than as prescribed, use when not prescribed, or both), motives, and past 12-month sedative use. Past 12-month sedative use was dichotomized as Heavy Use (> 90 pills in past 12 months) and Less Heavy Use (≤ 90 pills), using a median split. Multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated that Heavy Use of sedatives was significantly associated with positive diagnoses for sedative use disorder and prescription opioid use disorder, a higher number of motives for sedative use, and reporting 'sedative use in ways other than as prescribed' and 'both forms of non-medical use, namely, other than as prescribed, and when not prescribed,' compared to non-prescribed use. Although in univariate analyses a positive diagnosis for past 12-month cocaine use disorder, and individual motives for sedative use such as 'to get high' and 'for pain relief', significantly predicted past 12-month Heavy Use, their effects diminished and became non-significant after adjusting for other covariates. Findings underscore the need for considering differential risk factors in tailoring preventive interventions for reducing non-medical sedative use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Motives
  • Non-medical sedative use
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Sedative misuse


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