Benzodiazepine Dependence - Diagnosis

Diagnosis

For a diagnosis of benzodiazepine dependence to be made, the ICD-10 requires that at least 3 of the below criteria are met and that they have been present for at least a month, or, if less than a month, that they appeared repeatedly during a 12-month period.

  • Behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that are associated with the repeated use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug.
  • Difficulty controlling use
  • Continued use despite harmful consequences
  • Preference given to drug use rather than to other activities and obligations
  • Increased tolerance to effects of the drug and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.

These diagnostic criteria are good for research purposes, but, in everyday clinical practice, they should be interpreted according to clinical judgement. In clinical practice, benzodiazepine dependence should be suspected in those having used benzodiazepines for longer than a month, in particular, if they are from a high-risk group. The main factors associated with an increased incidence of benzodiazepine dependence include:

  • Dose
  • Duration
  • Concommittant use of antidepressants

Benzodiazepine dependence should be suspected also in individuals having substance use disorders including alcohol, and should be suspected in individuals obtaining their own supplies of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine dependence is almost certain in individuals who are members of a tranquillizer self-help groups.

Research has found that about 40 percent of people with a diagnosis of benzodiazepine dependence are not aware that they are dependent on benzodiazepines, whereas about 11 percent of people judged not to be dependent believe that they are. When assessing a person for benzodiazepine dependence, asking specific questions rather than questions based on concepts is recommended by experts as the best approach of getting a more accurate diagnosis. For example, asking persons if they "think about the medication at times of the day other than when they take the drug" would provide a more meaningful answer than asking "do you think you are psychologically dependent?". The Benzodiazepine Dependence Self Report Questionnaire is one questionnaire used to assess and diagnose benzodiazepine dependence.

Read more about this topic:  Benzodiazepine Dependence

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