Treatment of out-patients with complicated benzodiazepine dependence: comparison of two approaches

Addiction. 2002 Jul;97(7):851-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00129.x.


Aims: To evaluate whether gradual benzodiazepine taper combined with cognitive-behavioural treatment is more effective than standard treatment for patients with dependence in out-patient clinics.

Design: A randomized, controlled clinical trial, using standard questionnaires and serum and urine tests.

Settings: Four public-sector out-patient clinics for alcohol and drug abusers in Helsinki.

Participants: Seventy-six patients with benzodiazepine dependence (DSM-III-R). Patients taking high doses of the drug or with alcohol use disorders were included to obtain a subject group representative of usual clinical practice.

Intervention: Subjects received gradual benzodiazepine taper combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (experimental group) or standard withdrawal treatment not scheduled by the researchers (control group).

Measurements: The outcome was measured in terms of attaining a state of abstinence or by a decrease in the dosage during the study period of up to 12 months' duration.

Findings: No statistically significant differences in the outcomes were observed between the groups. A total of 13% of the experimental group and 27% of the control group were able to discontinue drug use. In addition 67% of the experimental group and 57% of the control group were able to decrease the dose.

Conclusions: The search continues for improved methods of helping patients with complicated benzodiazepine dependence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzodiazepines