GPs get new guide on benzodiazepines prescribing

prescribing - benzodiazepines

The RACGP has created a new guide for GPs on prescribing benzodiazepines, focusing on patient-centred care, accountable prescribing and harm reduction – and called for a real-time prescription drug database.

A class of drugs most commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, every year in Australia nearly 7 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are issued, with Valium and temazepam among the most common.

RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones says although benzodiazepines have been associated with both benefits and harms for patients, their use has led to growing concern about the harms associated with both the authorised and unauthorised use of the drugs.

“It is vital GPs are aware of the issues benzodiazepines have created at a broad society level and among individual patients,” Dr Jones says.

“There is significant debate in the medical community about the appropriate role and use of these drugs and this has been exacerbated by a lack of clinical guidelines in the area.

“The RACGP’s new guide, Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice, Part B: Benzodiazepines is the first in Australia to comprehensively address these issues.

“Prescription of benzodiazepines, as with any treatment, should be based on a comprehensive medical assessment, a diagnosis, an examination of risks and benefits and a management plan.

“It is also important for patients to understand that medication is only part of the answer to managing complex mental health issues and non-drug therapies should also be explored,” Dr Jones says.

The guide explains that benzodiazepines should not be the first line of treatment and are generally regarded as a short-term therapeutic option. Long-term use, beyond four weeks, should be uncommon, made with caution and based on thoughtful consideration of the likely risks and benefits, accompanied with continued monitoring.

Dr Jones says while problems associated with the use of benzodiazepines are rare in patients who take low doses for recommended periods, some patients may be more vulnerable to harms.

“As GPs we need to be vigilant in identifying patients who may be misusing or abusing benzodiazepines because this can become a long-term and distressing problem.

“Patients who have a substance use disorder may ‘doctor shop’ to gain prescriptions and increase their use and dosage. When taken in combination with other substances such as opioid medications, illicit drugs and alcohol, this can result in death.”

The guide should help reduce patient harm associated with benzodiazepine misuse however, broader issues beyond the control of the RACGP also need to be addressed, he says.

“There needs to be an immediate rollout of a real-time prescription drug database, something the RACGP has long called for.

“There is also the need for consistency across states when it comes to laws and definitions regarding drugs of dependence because current variations complicate and confuse health professionals,” Dr Jones says.

Previous Performance to tackle eating disorders
Next Fozz Foster joins the fight against antibiotic resistance

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.

1 Comment

  1. Plenty 'O Boxes

    Wow! How quickly they change things to suit themselves.

    Antidepressants are as addictive as benzodiazepines, and unlike benzos are widely available, most patients stay on varied doses and types for years I r life…. That’s addictive medication. But it’s controllable so ppl seem aware and happy on them, that’s what DOCTORS like to see, a customer coming back fortnightly for life…. what a pay day for some companies.
    Benzodiazepines are dangerous they can be abused. Lol. So can panadol and antidepressants etc. Benzodiazepines help for areas Zoloft doesn’t cover. Anxiety, social anxiety, insomnia, ptsd, panic disorder, muscle relaxant, etc etc. These new doctors lump everyone together, it’s a mass antidepressants conversion as it looks friendlier/happier/easier to control?

    “It’s highly addictive” must be in a newish uni text book. It’s verbatim.
    “Ummm, yes I heard it can be, but as you can see before my last doctor retired and you filled his patient list, I was taking with excellent results for 12yrs, on and off, sometimes months in between scripts, sometimes daily pills, I only take what I need, when I need them, and taking pills for over a decade to function and work is annoying so I take in varying lower doses to test myself or try to not rely so much for the desired effect…. but it’s addictive is it? Soooo that’s lucky I take them as required only, and they work.”……. “but you can become used to them and reliant on them, they make you drowsy, and they are bad to take for too long. Zoloft or Efexor and others are better. Serequol for sleep”
    .’…this Is what I got from my doctor. Plus “I don’t like prescribing these”…. That’s fair, but I’m on them for over a decade from your old boss, no problems…. if I’m on them this long, I work in public, support family etc, why change, why this push onto these specific meds that do nothing for panic disorder and anxiety disorders…. hmmmm

    Doctors, the make the drug, it works, don’t give out early, don’t assume everyone is an abuser of every which thing…. It’s made for a purpose, allow it’s use. Stress less. It’s not “highly addictive” it’s highly helpful to many. It’s somewhat addictive, but the benefit out ways the addictive. Lithium is addictive, serequol, Zoloft etc etc more so.

    Just monitor use. No early scripts. People do mix meds of any kind, it’s rare not to see it first hand.

    Benzodiazepines work, stop thinking if you take 1 a day you must be going to take 10 soon enough. B

Leave a reply