Fast Five Quiz: Benzodiazepines

Mary L. Windle, PharmD


February 02, 2021

Evidence-based guidelines recommend that deprescribing (tapering slowly) benzodiazepines be offered to elderly adults (≥ 65 years), regardless of duration of use. Deprescribing should be offered to adults aged 18-64 years who have used benzodiazepines for more than 4 weeks. These recommendations apply to patients who use these drugs to treat insomnia alone (primary insomnia) or comorbid insomnia where underlying comorbidities are effectively managed. This guideline does not apply to those with other sleep disorders (eg, restless leg syndrome) or untreated anxiety, depression, or other physical or mental health conditions that might be causing or aggravating insomnia.

The guidelines further state that tapering will help reduce withdrawal symptoms, although it may not eliminate them. At each step in the taper (approximately every 1-2 weeks), patients should be monitored for severity and frequency of adverse drug withdrawal symptoms, potential benefits, and mood, sleep quality, and changes in sleep. This can be done at a scheduled appointment or through a telephone call by a physician, psychologist, pharmacist, or nurse.

Read more about the treatment of insomnia.


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