Background: Use of benzodiazepines, common among older people, may lead to substance dependence. DSM-IV-TR criteria for this iatrogenic problem may apply poorly to older persons following a physician-prescribed regimen. This study, first of its kind, aimed to determine the prevalence rate of benzodiazepine dependence in older persons according to DSM-IV-TR and other atypical criteria.
Methods: Descriptive study based on face-to-face interviews conducted in the homes of 2,785 persons aged 65 years or older who were randomly selected from across the province of Quebec, Canada.
Results: Use of benzodiazepines was reported by 25.4% of respondents. Among them, 9.5% met DSM-IV-TR criteria for substance dependence. However, 43% of users reported being dependent, and one third agreed that it would be a good thing to stop taking benzodiazepines.
Interpretation: Benzodiazepine substance dependence is established at one tenth of community-dwelling older persons taking these medications, although a much larger proportion self-labels as dependent.