Pharmacologic Strategies for Discontinuing Benzodiazepine Treatment

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Benzodiazepines have been shown to have broad-spectrum activity, rapid onset of action, and a wide therapeutic window compared with other anxiolytic medications. Yet the use of benzodiazepines has been limited by concern regarding dependence, withdrawal, and abuse. Agents such as antidepressants, serotonergic anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, and β-blockers have been used with varying degrees of success to help facilitate the tapering of benzodiazepines. Carbamazepine, imipramine, valproate, and trazodone have been beneficial in the management of benzodiazepine discontinuation, but not in decreasing the severity of benzodiazepine withdrawal. A stepwise approach to discontinuing benzodiazepines is offered.

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