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Long-term use of benzodiazepines has been known to produce complications related to discontinuation, withdrawal symptoms, increased risk of accidental overdose when combined with other central nervous system depressants, persistence of benzodiazepine related adverse-effects, physical dependence, and benzodiazepine use disorder.1-3 There were nearly 272,000 emergency department encounters within the United States involving nonmedical use of benzodiazepines in 2008. In many of these visits (40%), benzodiazepines were used in conjunction with alcohol.4 The number of nonmedical benzodiazepine emergency department visits increased to 426,000 in 2011. The use of alcohol was present in 24.2% of these visits.

Pharmacists can play a key role in providing education to patients and providers about the value of avoiding benzodiazepines, alternative, safer and more effective agents, and often in helping to directly or indirectly assist in the difficult process of tapering such agents. Contents include: 

  • Populations at Risk for Complications
  • Screening and Diagnosis
  • Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
  • Tapering
  • Special Populations
  • Harm Reduction
  • Clinical Pearls
  • Authors’ Experience
  • References