Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice

Part B - Benzodiazepines

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Last revised: 06 Nov 2019


Benzodiazepines have a chequered clinical history and continue to produce polar opinions in the medical community. Benzodiazepines have been associated with both benefits and harms for patients, and a clear guide for accountable prescribing has been requested from multiple agencies.

Drug therapies will only ever have a partial role in managing complex bio-psychosocial issues that characterise mental health care. In the modern health environment, we have to explore and use non-drug therapies, and redefine the place of existing medications.

This guide represents a synthesis of the best available evidence for benzodiazepine use in the primary care setting. Consistent with all medications, prescribing benzodiazepines requires clear patient selection and ongoing clinical monitoring to optimise outcomes. The risk–benefit ratio of benzodiazepines changes considerably with concomitant psychoactive drugs, or comorbid alcohol or substance abuse or misuse.

In completing this guide, we acknowledge the work of the key advisers and reviewers, and the many people who have provided constructive feedback.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes feedback on this guide to continually improve services at the general practice level. Please use the feedback section on our website to help co-create this guide.