Benzodiazepines are potentially addictive drugs: psychological and physical dependence can develop within a few weeks or years of regular or repeated use. The socioeconomic costs of the present high level of long-term benzodiazepine use are considerable. These consequences could be minimised if prescriptions for long-term benzodiazepines were decreased. However, many physicians continue to prescribe benzodiazepines and patients wishing to withdraw receive little advice or support. Particular care should be taken in prescribing benzodiazepines for vulnerable patients such as elderly persons, pregnant women, children, alcohol- or drug-dependent patients and patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders. The following update gives recent research results on the withdrawal pathophysiology and practical information in order to treat or prevent benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.