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Benzodiazepine Dependence, Toxicity, and Abuse

A Task Force Report of the American Psychiatric Association

American Psychiatric Association

  • ISBN 978-0-89042-228-1
  • Item #2228

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In recent years, patients, lay publications, and consumer groups have expressed concern about whether benzodiazepines are overprescribed. Psychiatrists have raised questions about the potential for these medications—especially some of the newer, high-potency, short half-life compounds—to produce serious side effects as well as to induce drug dependence.

Benzodiazepine Dependence, Toxicity, and Abuse provides clinicians with a review of the available information on the potential hazards of benzodiazepine treatment and offers suggestions for the rational prescription of these medications.


  • Clinical pharmacology of benzodiazepines. Patterns of benzodiazepine use. Physiological dependence on benzodiazepines. Risk factors for clinically important physiological benzodiazepine dependence. Treatment of benzodiazepine discontinuance symptoms. Mechanism of benzodiazepine dependence and tolerance. Benzodiazepine toxicity. Abuse liability of benzodiazepines. Conclusions. Prescribing guidelines. References. Additional readings.

This timely APA task force report on benzodiazepines should be 'must reading' for every prescribing clinician. Rarely does the reader find in one place a clear guide in using a class of psychotropic agents. In addition to their dealing with the myth of excessive benzodiazepine abuse, the authors have described the relative risk-benefit ratios, the 'epidemiology' of use, and given us succinct guidelines for the appropriate use of benzodiazepines in clinical practice.—David J. Kupfer, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh

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