Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. 1990 January; 40(330): 22–26.
PMCID: PMC1371210

Controlled comparison of the characteristics of long-term benzodiazepine users in general practice.


From three general practices, served by 11 principals, 205 long-term benzodiazepine users were identified and matched for age and sex with controls. Benzodiazepine users had significantly higher rates of previous physical illness, consultation and non-psychotropic drug consumption than controls. The characteristics of those receiving prescriptions for benzodiazepine hypnotics alone, anxiolytics alone and anxiolytics plus hypnotics were also investigated. Significant differences emerged between these three groups. Patients receiving hypnotics only were older, had a history of more physical illness and had received more non-psychotropic medication than patients receiving anxiolytics only. The anxiolytic plus hypnotic group had previously received more hypnotics and were currently receiving more medication than the group receiving anxiolytics alone. The results are discussed in relation to current concerns about benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.3M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Tyrer P. The benzodiazepine bonanza. Lancet. 1974 Sep 21;2(7882):709–710. [PubMed]
  • Lader M. Benzodiazepines--the opium of the masses? Neuroscience. 1978;3(2):159–165. [PubMed]
  • Ashton H. Benzodiazepine withdrawal: an unfinished story. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984 Apr 14;288(6424):1135–1140. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Murphy SM, Owen RT, Tyrer PJ. Withdrawal symptoms after six weeks' treatment with diazepam. Lancet. 1984 Dec 15;2(8416):1389–1389. [PubMed]
  • Balter MB, Manheimer DI, Mellinger GD, Uhlenhuth EH. A cross-national comparison of anti-anxiety/sedative drug use. Curr Med Res Opin. 1984;8 (Suppl 4):5–20. [PubMed]
  • Mellinger GD, Balter MB, Uhlenhuth EH. Anti-anxiety agents: duration of use and characteristics of users in the U.S.A. Curr Med Res Opin. 1984;8 (Suppl 4):21–36. [PubMed]
  • Drury VW. Benzodiazepines--a challenge to rational prescribing. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1985 Feb;35(271):86–88. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Tyrer P, Murphy S. The place of benzodiazepines in psychiatric practice. Br J Psychiatry. 1987 Dec;151:719–723. [PubMed]
  • Cohen S. Current attitudes about the benzodiazepines: trial by media. J Psychoactive Drugs. 1983 Jan-Jun;15(1-2):109–113. [PubMed]
  • Skegg DC, Doll R, Perry J. Use of medicines in general practice. Br Med J. 1977 Jun 18;1(6076):1561–1563. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Cooperstock R. Sex differences in psychotropic drug use. Soc Sci Med. 1978 Jul;12(3B):179–186. [PubMed]
  • Murray J, Dunn G, Williams P, Tarnopolsky A. Factors affecting the consumption of psychotropic drugs. Psychol Med. 1981 Aug;11(3):551–560. [PubMed]
  • Salinsky JV, Doré CJ. Characteristics of long term benzodiazepine users in general practice. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1987 May;37(298):202–204. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rodrigo EK, King MB, Williams P. Health of long term benzodiazepine users. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988 Feb 27;296(6622):603–606. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Morgan K. Sedative-hypnotic drug use and ageing. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 1983 Nov;2(3):181–199. [PubMed]
  • Cook PJ, Huggett A, Graham-Pole R, Savage IT, James IM. Hypnotic accumulation and hangover in elderly inpatients: a controlled double-blind study of temazepam and nitrazepam. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983 Jan 8;286(6359):100–102. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Morgan K, Dallosso H, Ebrahim S, Arie T, Fentem PH. Prevalence, frequency, and duration of hypnotic drug use among the elderly living at home. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988 Feb 27;296(6622):601–602. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Mellinger GD, Balter MB, Uhlenhuth EH. Prevalence and correlates of the long-term regular use of anxiolytics. JAMA. 1984 Jan 20;251(3):375–379. [PubMed]
  • MALMO RB, SHAGASS C. Physiologic study of symptom mechanisms in psychiatric patients under stress. Psychosom Med. 1949 Jan–Feb;11(1):25–29. [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners