Long term use of hypnotics and anxiolytics May not result in increased tolerance

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6956.742a (Published 17 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:742
  1. K E Logan,
  2. S M Lawrie
  1. Professorial Unit, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 5HF
  2. Academic Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QG.

    EDITOR, — Both Neil Wright and colleagues1 and John W G Tiller2 question whether long term use of benzodiazepines is as bad as the media stereotype suggests. We provide evidence that long term prescription of this class of drugs does not necessarily result in increasing tolerance.

    Altogether 191 (3.9%) patients receiving computerised repeat prescriptions of hypnotic and anxiolytic drugs (British National Formulary class 4.1) were identified from a general practice with a list of 4857 patients in Haddington, Lothian region, in 1992. Primary care case notes for 181 of these patients were available for review. The mean age of these patients was 69 (range 4-93). They had received long term treatment (defined as a two month supply of tablets at least three times each year) for a mean of 5.6 years (range 1-41), but the first prescription had been a mean of 20 years before (range 2-41), indicating that many patients had received the drugs …

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