The first UK-wide mental health and money advice service dedicated to supporting people affected by mental health and money issues. Talk to your doctor about stopping if you have been taking benzodiazepines regularly for 4 weeks or more. You should only be offered benzodiazepines to treat insomnia if it’s severe, disabling, or causing you a lot of distress.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

The older literature on the addiction propensity of benzodiazepines seemed reassuring (13) in suggesting that these drugs were not strong reinforcers and were less likely than others to be the preferred drug of misuse. Thus, responsible prescribing, beyond considering alternatives, requires knowing the patient and monitoring drug consumption. Concern about one population, however, need not proscribe the use of benzodiazepines in other populations who might benefit with a chance to live their lives with greater freedom from anxiety. BZDs represent one of the most widely prescribed drug classes in the United States. They are used for immediate symptom relief of anxiety, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, spasticity from CNS pathology, catatonia, sleep disorders such as insomnia, and withdrawal from alcohol and other BZDs [3].


For others, as adults, when given an adequate prescription of a benzodiazepine in a regimen avoiding interdose rebound, their symptoms will respond well, and they will ask if this is how normal people feel. Indeed, patients with panic disorder may be subsensitive to benzodiazepines and require higher doses than those without severe anxiety (7). Benzodiazepines taken in toxic doses without other coingestants rarely cause a significant toxidrome. The classic presentation in patients with isolated benzodiazepine overdose will include central nervous system (CNS) depression with normal or near-normal vital signs. Respiratory compromise is uncommon in isolated benzodiazepine ingestions, but if taken with coingestants such as ethanol or other drugs/medications, respiratory depression can be noted. It is important to note that most intentional ingestions of benzodiazepines do involve coingestants, the most common being ethanol, leading to substantial respiratory depression and airway compromise.

Are benzodiazepines commonly prescribed?

The association of benzodiazepine and benzodiazepine-related drugs with outcomes after surgery for colorectal cancer –

The association of benzodiazepine and benzodiazepine-related drugs with outcomes after surgery for colorectal cancer.

Posted: Thu, 30 Nov 2023 21:50:37 GMT [source]

The strength and duration of action of benzodiazepines are important in what conditions they treat. Short-term or emergency conditions usually merit the use of stronger, short-acting benzodiazepines. Chronic, non-emergency conditions are usually treatable with lower-strength, longer-acting benzodiazepines. Many countries, including the U.S., classify benzodiazepines (sometimes known by the slang term “benzos”) as controlled substances.

To be specific in terms of binding sites and actions, BZD binds between the alpha and the gamma subunit. It enhances the effect of GABA at the GABA-A receptor, allowing it to exert a more significant effect [2]. Some benzodiazepines (diazepam, chlordiazepoxide) have active metabolites that remain in the system for an extended period (long-acting), and this can be problematic for patients, especially older patients. Elderly patients may have liver impairment and trouble eliminating the drugs from their system. Side effects, such as dizziness, confusion or unsteadiness may persist in the elderly who are prescribed long-acting benzodiazepines.

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that usually begins in early childhood and also causes developmental and behavior problems.. This form of epilepsy may involve seizures of multiple types, mental impairment, and a particular brain wave pattern. Clobazam (Onfi) is used as an add-on (adjunct) benzodiazepine anticonvulsive treatment with other seizures medications in benzodiazepine withdrawal the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. If you take an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine, like alprazolam, or a long-acting benzodiazepine, like diazepam, it may take longer for withdrawal symptoms to appear. Short-acting benzodiazepines, like triazolam, pass quickly through the body, so you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms sooner — sometimes within a matter of hours.

  • The cornerstone of treatment in benzodiazepine (BZD) overdoses is supportive care and monitoring.
  • This is particularly true if you are also giving up other substances, like alcohol or opioids.
  • However, no set schedule for a taper has been validated in the current literature.
  • Some studies in the past have shown that there is a correlation between chronic BZD use and a decline in cognitive function, including the development of dementia and dementia-like diseases.
  • Estimates suggest that 10 to 25% of people who take benzodiazepines for extended periods experience what’s known as protracted withdrawal.

Prehospital Care

I do favor antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), over benzodiazepines for treatment of persisting anxiety disorders. The “standard advice” for these classes is interestingly opposite to that for benzodiazepines. With both classes, we encounter distressing symptoms with abrupt withdrawal that can obscure the difference between discontinuation effects and relapse (15). Early nonadherence, however, often follows prescribing of SSRIs or SNRIs in part because of induction of anxiety or agitation, although benzodiazepines rarely worsen or induce those symptoms.

When should I see my healthcare provider?

benzodiazepine treatment

Agarwal and Landon 2019 stated that the prescription of BZD in outpatient settings significantly increased from 2003 to 2015 [27]. Several studies have examined the relationship between BZD use and mortality. In a systematic review of research, Charlson et al. could not find conclusive evidence supporting increased risk of mortality in BZD users [43]. In their analysis of six retrospective studies, half of them showed no significant relationship between BZD use and mortality. One of the studies showed an increase in mortality with increased dosage and frequency of use which could be attributed to increased toxicity, another showed a positive correlation among older adults [43].

Drug interactions with benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines: What They Are, Uses, Side Effects & Risks

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