The popular use of benzodiazepines has led to a number of inconsistencies as well as their being prescribed inappropriately at times. Brand names the public is familiar with may include: Librium, Valium, Xanax, Librax, Dalmane, Ativan, Serax, and Halcion. Benzodiazepines are mostly prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders, reports Medscape Medical News.
New data indicates that benzodiazepines are often prescribed to patients who may be at risk for adverse events. “For patients with COPD, substance use disorders, osteoporosis, and advanced age, seem most likely to be prescribed a benzodiazepine medication, and at the highest doses – the choice of prescribing a benzodiazepine should be made with great caution,” writes David S. Kroll, MD, from Harvard Medical School and Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.
Among patients with high-dose benzodiazepine prescriptions, 52 percent were also concurrently prescribed antidepressants, researchers learned.
Too often, benzodiazepines are abused. This is partially due to the relative ease they can be obtained as well as the effects they produce. They can be chronically abused or, as seen more commonly in hospital emergency departments, intentionally or accidentally taken resulting in overdose situations. Serious illness or death don’t often result from benzodiazepine abuse alone. They are, frequently, however, taken with other medications or alcohol. The combination with alcohol can be dangerous, or even lethal.
Despite their many positive uses, benzodiazepines may lead to physical and psychological dependence. Dependence may result in withdrawal symptoms and possibly seizures when they are stopped abruptly. When people are prescribed benzodiazepines for a specific condition for a short period of time, and the dosage is adhered to, dependence and withdrawal occur in only a very small percentage, according to Web MD.