Abuse of sleeping pills and sedatives has increased over the past few years, as about 10 percent of Taiwanese suffer from chronic insomnia, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday.
Abuse of the sedatives Zolpidem and Zopiclone, as well as benzodiazepines — all of which are controlled drugs that require a doctor’s prescription — increased substantially last year, with Zolpidem abuse rising from seven cases in 2015 to 71 last year, FDA statistics showed.
The majority of people abusing sleeping pills or sedatives are older than 70, accounting for 42.3 percent of all cases last year, followed by people in their 60s at about 15.7 percent, the data showed.
FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said that as many sedatives depress the central nervous system and can cause harm to the body when an excessive amount is taken at one time, they are listed as controlled drugs that require a prescription from a specialist.
People suffering from chronic sleep disorders should first try to review and improve their sleeping habits or lifestyle and consult a doctor or psychiatrist instead of trying to purchase sleeping pills on their own or exceeding the doses of medication prescribed by doctors, she said.
In a bid to raise public awareness of drug abuse, eight drug education resource centers were established nationwide last year, which have provided more than 20,000 consultations and are to hold lectures, the administration said.
The age group with the most drug abuse cases was people aged between 30 and 39, the administration’s statistics on drug abuse, including illegal drugs, showed.
As people in their 30s are the main economically productive segment of the workforce, the drug education campaign has been promoted in workplaces, as well as in communities, with 130 companies having cooperated in promoting drug abuse prevention measures, the administration said.