Benzodiazepine use and dependency risk in geriatric inpatients
The use of of psychoactive drugs in geriatric nursing homes has to be considered within the peculiar frame work of the elderly condition. The present study was aimed at verifying the prevalence and characteristics of prolonged benzodiazepine use (~ 1 month) in the entire elderly institutionalized population of an Italian region (Molise). In the 31 benzodiazepine consumers identified, psychosocial and clinical data were recorded by means of a specific scale and of a semistructured interview for the assessment of drug effects. The dependence potential was evaluated in a smaller sample of 18 patients, recording with a scale the onset of withdrawal and/or rebound symptoms following discontinuation of drug treatment. The characteristics of prescription appeared to be generally correct and no appreciable tendency toward abuse was evidenced. In only one patient, discontinuation of benzodiazepines precipitated a confusional state. In other 5 patients significant but not severe withdrawal symptoms were recorded. Duration of treatment was the only variable moderately correlated with the onset of withdrawal/rebound symptomatology (p _ 0.1). In conclusion, the results of our study are reassuring but they should not induce to disregard important clinical aspects of psychopharmacotherapy in the elderly, such as: psychopathological diagnosis, drug associations and interactions, duration of treatment and dosage of prescribed benzodiazepines.
Janiri, L; Di Giovanni, A; Persico, A; Zeppetelli, E; Mannelli, P; Antico, L; Tempesta, E
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