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Discontinuing benzodiazepines: best practices

  • G. Guaiana (a1) and C. Barbui (a2)

Abstract

In July 2015, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) released a Rapid Response report summary, with a critical appraisal, on discontinuation strategies for patients with long-term benzodiazepines (BDZ) use. The CADTH document is a review of the literature. It includes studies whose intervention is BDZ discontinuation. Also, clinical guidelines, systematic reviews and meta-analyses are included. What emerges from the CADTH guidelines is that the best strategy remains gradual tapering of BDZ with little evidence for the use of adjunctive medications. The results show that simple interventions such as discontinuation letters from clinicians, self-help information and support in general, added to gradual tapering may be associated with a two- to three-fold higher chance of successful withdrawal, compared with treatment as usual. We suggest possible implications for day-to-day clinical practice.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: Dr G. Guaiana, Department of Psychiatry, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, 189 Elm Street, St. Thomas, Ontario N5R 5C4, Canada. (Email: gguaiana@uwo.ca)

Footnotes

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This Section of Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences appears in each issue of the Journal to stress the role of the epidemiological approach to promote advances in the field of clinical psychopharmacology, with a particular attention to controversial findings. The ultimate aims are to help develop a more critical attitude towards the results of research studies published in the international literature, to promote original research projects with higher methodological standards, AND to implement the most relevant results of research in every-day clinical practice. These contributions are written in house by the journal's editorial team or commissioned by the Section Editor (no more than 1000 words, short unstructured abstract, 4 key-words, one Table or Figure AND up to ten references).

Corrado Barbui, Section Editor

Footnotes

References

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Discontinuing benzodiazepines: best practices

  • G. Guaiana (a1) and C. Barbui (a2)

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