Sending letters can help people stop taking benzodiazepines, says new systematic review

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As people get older they tend to have more problems sleeping. Sometimes they are prescribed medication (hynoptic drugs) to help them sleep. Commonly used hynoptics are benzodiazepines and Z drugs (zopiclone, zolpidem, zaleplon). Researchers from Australia have just published a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (ref 1) that evaluates the effectiveness of simple ‘minimal [read the full story…]

Is it safe to prescribe benzodiazepines and opioids together?

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Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for the management of anxiety and insomnia. They can also be used for sedation or amnesia before medical or surgical procedures, treatment of seizure, treatment of alcohol or sedative withdrawal, or acute agitation. Known side effects include drowsiness, fatigue and ataxia (the loss of full control of bodily movements). Opioids [read the full story…]

Benzodiazepines may protect against seizures in alcohol withdrawal syndrome

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Every once in a while the Cochrane library publish an overview of reviews to summarise the evidence for a specific intervention. Such an overview has recently been made available to bring together all of the Cochrane reviews that assess the effectiveness and safety of pharmacological interventions in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. The overview brings [read the full story…]

Benzodiazepines associated with an increase in falls and fractures in older adults

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This rapid response report from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health set out to answer four questions: 1. What is the evidence on the safety of using benzodiazepines in older adults to manage disruptive behaviour or treat anxiety? 2. What is the effectiveness of benzodiazepines compared with that of antidepressants in older [read the full story…]

Long term dependence on benzodiazepines is addressed by two new reports


A Department of Health press release published today highlights two new reports on addiction to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. People can become dependent on tranquilisers, sleeping pills and opiate based painkillers, such as codeine, particularly if taken at high doses for prolonged periods. Long-term dependence on substances such as benzodiazepines has been identified as a particular [read the full story…]