When used as recommended by a medical professional and only for a few weeks, benzodiazepines have a low risk of addiction. However, the risk for addiction increases if the substance is taken regularly for more than a few weeks, especially in higher doses. People with a history of substance abuse are also more at risk of developing an addiction to benzodiazepines.
In 2008, around 75 million prescriptions were written for benzos. It is estimated that the prevalence of benzo use in the general population is 4% to 5%. Most individuals take benzodiazepines as recommended, while 2% escalate to taking high doses and even meeting the criteria for abuse or dependence on this substance.6
In addition, roughly 2.3% to 18% of Americans have misused sedatives or tranquilizers in their lifetime. Around 10% of those individuals met the criteria for abuse or dependence. In 2010, there were approximately 186,000 new abusers of benzos.6