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Some Anxiety Meds Overprescribed

Some Anxiety Meds OverprescribedA new study suggests that despite warnings, some drugs used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders are still being used.

According to researchers from the University of British Columbia, the drugs are frequently prescribed for baby boomers, despite warnings against long-term use.

Published online in the journal Health Policy, the study by researchers at UBC’s Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) is the first of its kind to examine the use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan for an entire population over time.

It’s also the first to pinpoint the socioeconomic characteristics associated with long-term users of such drugs.

Results show that seniors and low-income earners are more likely to be long-term users of benzodiazepines, with rates remaining steady over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, use among the middle-aged population has increased.

Harms associated with long-term use (more than 100 days in a year) can include dependence and tolerance, cognitive impairment, and increased risks of falls in the elderly.

“Given the potential for dependence and harms associated with these drugs, they are recommended to be used sparingly for short periods,” says Colleen Cunningham, CHSPR researcher and lead author of the study.

“However, our study suggests that a significant number of British Columbians – especially the elderly who suffer greater health risks from falls – are using them for long periods.”

Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed types of neurological drugs in developed countries. The UBC study compared health records of B.C. residents from 1996 and 2006.

Of the 4.9 percent of the overall B.C. population who were given short-term benzodiazepine prescriptions in 2006 and 3.5 percent who were given long-term prescriptions:

  • Nearly half of long-term users were over age 65, and more than a quarter were 75 or older
  • Two out of three were women, both for short- and long-term use
  • Long-term users were more likely to be in the lowest income bracket than short-term or non-users

Cunningham and co-authors Gillian Hanley and Steve Morgan found long-term use in 2006 was associated with early use – half of all 2006 long-term users had been prescribed benzodiazepines in 1996.

The researchers are calling for prescribing practices and policies that target populations younger than conventionally studied (i.e., under age 65) to reduce rates of long-term use.

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Source: University of British Columbia

Some Anxiety Meds Overprescribed

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Some Anxiety Meds Overprescribed. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/25/some-anxiety-meds-overprescribed/14050.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.