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Br J Psychiatry. 1990 Mar;156:406-11.

Chronic benzodiazepine dependence. A comparative study of abrupt withdrawal under propranolol cover versus gradual withdrawal.

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  • 1Abraham Cowley Unit, St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey, Surrey.


Thirty-one patients dependent on benzodiazepines were randomly assigned to either slow withdrawal (SW) or abrupt withdrawal under propranolol cover (PW). Of 16 patients in the SW group, 11 successfully withdrew from their drugs, while only 4 out of 15 in the PW group did so. Patients in the SW group had only mild withdrawal symptoms, while those in the PW group suffered more severe symptoms, which lasted around four weeks. In all, 81% of the whole group suffered withdrawal symptoms of some kind. Patients in both groups were significantly less anxious at the end of the study than at baseline. Younger subjects and those who were more severely anxious at the start of the trial had more difficulty in withdrawing than older and less anxious patients.

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