Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Rachel Vickers-Smith

Committee Member

Dr. April Young

Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer Havens


Aim: To determine if there is a relationship between depression risk, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and engaging in benzodiazepine misuse.

Methods: A secondary cross-sectional analysis was conducted on data from a sample of people who use drugs (n=743). Depression risk was assessed via the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale. Meeting DSM-IV criteria for PTSD was identified using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). We used simple and multivariable logistic regression models to estimate the association between mental health factors of interest and benzodiazepine misuse, defined as self-reported benzodiazepine use “to get high” in the past six months.

Results: Of the total sample, 36.3% used benzodiazepines to get high in the past six months (n=270). Unadjusted models showed risk of depression and meeting criteria for PTSD were significantly associated with benzodiazepine misuse. After adjusting for covariates, risk of depression was associated with 79% higher odds of benzodiazepine misuse (aOR: 1.79; 95% CI: 1.14, 2.80); meeting criteria for PTSD was not significantly associated with benzodiazepine misuse (aOR: 1.24; 95% CI: 0.83, 1.84).

Conclusions: Risk of depression was associated with greater odds of benzodiazepines misuse. Additional studies are needed to understand motivations behind engaging in benzodiazepine use to get high, given the harms associated with long-term use.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 22, 2026

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