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Steps to Reduce Benzodiazepine Overprescribing

Steps to Reduce Benzodiazepine Overprescribing 

New Patients (patients not yet prescribed)

  • Require informed consent to every patient of the risks and dangers of benzodiazepine/Z-drug use past the recommended 2-4 weeks.
  • Adhere to the existing guidelines: short-term prescriptions (2-4 weeks only) in minimal dosage
  • Learn existing non-drug treatments for anxiety and insomnia 
  • Educate doctors, other prescribers, and healthcare workers about the potential dangers of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs

 Long-Term Patients (already physically dependent)

General Measures

  • Black box or other heightened warnings on the drugs themselves or within the drug literature/patient handout that accompanies the drug prescription. (FDA Announced in September, 2020)
  • Research into the long-term effects of benzodiazepines.
  • Greater transparency about the results of drug company sponsored trials.
  • Continued and persistent pressure (through activism, awareness, lobbying, grassroots efforts) on government health authorities and the public.
  • In some cases, filing a complaint about negligent medical providers to the State Medical Board (or other prescriber regulatory agencies, depending on location) may be in order, as may the pursuit of litigation and exposing any settlements publicly. This includes cases where inappropriate or abrupt withdrawal has resulted in a severe withdrawal syndrome. Avoiding formal complaints and litigation can be a significant motivator for providers to get quickly educated. Criminal charges against the prescriber may even be appropriate in some situations.