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JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;72(2):136-42. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1763.

Benzodiazepine use in the United States.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York2New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.
2
School of Management, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
3
Office of the Director, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Abstract

IMPORTANCE:

Although concern exists regarding the rate of benzodiazepine use, especially long-term use by older adults, little information is available concerning patterns of benzodiazepine use in the United States.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe benzodiazepine prescription patterns in the United States focusing on patient age and duration of use.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

A retrospective descriptive analysis of benzodiazepine prescriptions was performed with the 2008 LifeLink LRx Longitudinal Prescription database (IMS Health Inc), which includes approximately 60% of all retail pharmacies in the United States. Denominators were adjusted to generalize estimates to the US population.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

The percentage of adults filling 1 or more benzodiazepine prescriptions during the study year by sex and age group (18-35 years, 36-50 years, 51-64 years, and 65-80 years) and among individuals receiving benzodiazepines, the corresponding percentages with long-term (≥120 days) benzodiazepine use, prescription of a long-acting benzodiazepine, and benzodiazepine prescriptions from a psychiatrist.

RESULTS:

In 2008, approximately 5.2% of US adults aged 18 to 80 years used benzodiazepines. The percentage who used benzodiazepines increased with age from 2.6% (18-35 years) to 5.4% (36-50 years) to 7.4% (51-64 years) to 8.7% (65-80 years). Benzodiazepine use was nearly twice as prevalent in women as men. The proportion of benzodiazepine use that was long term increased with age from 14.7% (18-35 years) to 31.4% (65-80 years), while the proportion that received a benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist decreased with age from 15.0% (18-35 years) to 5.7% (65-80 years). In all age groups, roughly one-quarter of individuals receiving benzodiazepine involved long-acting benzodiazepine use.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Despite cautions concerning risks associated with long-term benzodiazepine use, especially in older patients, long-term benzodiazepine use remains common in this age group. More vigorous clinical interventions supporting judicious benzodiazepine use may be needed to decrease rates of long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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