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Discontinuation Strategies for Patients with Long-term Benzodiazepine Use: A Review of Clinical Evidence and Guidelines

Last updated: July 29, 2015
Project Number: RC0682-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Drug
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical evidence regarding strategies to safely and effectively discontinue adult patients from long-term benzodiazepine use?
  2. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding discontinuation of long-term benzodiazepine use?

Key Message

Simple strategies such as letters from clinicians, self-help information, or a single consultation with a GP aimed at advising patients about the risk of long-term BZD use and the benefits of discontinuation can be effective interventions to promote discontinuation. Gradual dose-tapering is an effective discontinuation intervention, more so when supported with psychotherapy, follow-up visits, or written instructions to manage withdrawal symptoms. Melatonin used as adjuvant therapy to dose-tapering protocols did not produce additional benefit in terms of discontinuation rates.