Benzodiazepine Dependence - Treatment and Prevention - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Zopiclone is the most frequently prescribed hypnotic in the UK, followed by nitrazepam, and then temazepam, which is the most strictly regulated benzodiazepine in the UK due to its popularity as a drug of abuse and due to its considerably more toxic nature. Hypnotic drugs are of poor value for the management of chronic insomnia. Hypnotic drug consumption has been shown to reduce work performance, increase absenteeism, increase road traffic accidents, increase morbidity, and increase mortality, and is associated with an increased incidence of deliberate self-harm. In the elderly, increases in falls and fractures associated with sedative hypnotic drug use has been found. It is widely accepted that hypnotic drug usage beyond 4 weeks is undesirable for all age groups of patients. Many continuous hypnotic users exhibit disturbed sleep as a consequence of tolerance but experience worsening rebound or withdrawal insomnia when the dose is reduced too quickly, which compounds the problem of chronic hypnotic drug use. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be more effective for the long term management of insomnia than sedative hypnotic drugs. No formal withdrawal programs for benzodiazepines exists with local providers in the UK. Meta-analysis of published data on psychological treatments for insomnia show a success rate between 70 and 80%. A largescale trial utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy in chronic users of sedative hypnotics including nitrazepam, temazepam, and zopiclone found CBT to be a significantly more effective long-term treatment for chronic insomnia than sedative hypnotic drugs. Persisting improvements in sleep quality, sleep onset latency, increased total sleep, improvements in sleep efficiency, significant improvements in vitality, physical and mental health at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups were found in those receiving CBT. A marked reduction in total sedative hypnotic drug use was found in those receiving CBT, with 33% reporting zero hypnotic drug use. Age has been found not to be a barrier to successful outcome of CBT. It was concluded that CBT for the management of chronic insomnia is a flexible, practical, and cost-effective treatment, and it was also concluded that CBT leads to a reduction of benzodiazepine drug intake in a significant number of patients. Chronic use of hypnotic medications is not recommended due to their adverse effects on health and the risk of dependence. A gradual taper is usual clinical course in getting people off of benzodiazepines, but, even with gradual reduction, a large proportion of people fail to stop taking benzodiazepines. The elderly are particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of hypnotic medications. A clinical trial in elderly people dependent on benzodiazepine hypnotics showed that the addition of CBT to a gradual benzodiazepine reduction program increased the success rate of discontinuing benzodiazepine hypnotic drugs from 38% to 77% and at the 12-month follow-up from 24% to 70%. The paper concluded that CBT is an effective tool for reducing hypnotic use in the elderly and reducing the adverse health effects that are associated with hypnotics such as drug dependence, cognitive impairments, and increased road traffic accidents.

A study of patients undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal who had a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder showed that those hainvg received CBT had a very high success rate of discontinuing benzodiazepines compared to those not having receive CBT. This success rate was maintained at the 12-month follow-up. Furthermore it was found that, in patients having discontinued benzodiazepines, they no longer met the diagnosis of general anxiety disorder, and that the number of patients no longer meeting the diagnosis of general anxiety disorder was higher in the group having received CBT. Thus, CBT can be an effective tool to add to a gradual benzodiazepine dosage reduction program leading to improved and sustained mental health benefits.

Read more about this topic:  Benzodiazepine Dependence, Treatment and Prevention

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