Opioid and benzodiazepine utilization patterns in metropolitan and rural Texas





opioid, benzodiazepine, metropolitan, rural, PDMP


Introduction: Although many drugs are implicated in the crisis, opioids and concomitant sedatives are associated with increased overdose risk in both rural and urban communities. Individuals in rural areas are up to 5-fold more likely to experience adverse outcomes related to opioids. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate concomitant use of opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions in Texas, compare metropolitan and rural differences, and use these data to inform clinicians and to help develop harm reduction strategies.

Methods: Prescribing data were extracted from the Texas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) public use data file, the statewide monitoring program administered by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. An overlapping drug combination prescription day was defined as any day in which a patient had at least one of the overlapping drug types—eg, opioid + benzodiazepine, opioid + benzodiazepine + carisoprodol.

Results: In Texas, 47.4 percent of the counties with the highest number of overlapping days (per patient) bordered other states. Providers who practice in rural areas prescribe opioid and benzodiazepine medications with 8.2 more overlapping days per quarter.

Discussion: Taking both opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions is associated with increased overdose risk. Opioid prescription data provide a distinct view into the opioid epidemic that allows all states and counties to view the trends of opioid utilization. There are only a few studies using PDMP data to compare urban and rural trends.

Conclusions: Rural patients had more benzodiazepine and opioid days overlap than urban patients. The prevalence is higher among older adults and providers who practice in rural areas (average 8.2 more days per quarter). Our findings in Texas indicate a trend downward in overlap for both rural and urban areas over the last year of measurement. However, rural areas are still significantly higher.

Author Biographies

Robert W. Hutchison, PharmD, BCACP

Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Texas A&M University, Round Rock, Texas

Joseph Carhart, PhD

Epidemiologist, Bamboo Health, Louisville, Kentucky


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How to Cite

Hutchison, R. W., and J. Carhart. “Opioid and Benzodiazepine Utilization Patterns in Metropolitan and Rural Texas”. Journal of Opioid Management, vol. 19, no. 5, Nov. 2023, pp. 433-4, doi:10.5055/jom.0817.