Long-Term Use of Benzodiazepines and Nonbenzodiazepine Hypnotics, 1999-2014

Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Feb 1;69(2):235-238. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201700095. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


Objective: Clinical guidelines suggest that benzodiazepines (BZDs) and non-BZD hypnotics (NBHs) be used on a short-term basis. The authors examined trends in long-term BZD and NBH use from 1999 to 2014.

Methods: Data included 82,091 respondents in the 1999-2014 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES recorded medications used in the past 30 days on the basis of prescription bottles, and participants reported use duration. BZD and NBH use were categorized as short, medium, and long term, and time trends in use were assessed.

Results: BZD and NBH use increased from 1999 to 2014, driven by increases in medium- and long-term use, even after adjustment for age and race-ethnicity. In most years, only a fifth of current BZD or NBH users reported short-term use.

Conclusions: Long-term BZD and NBH use has grown independent of U.S. demographic shifts. Monitoring of use is needed to prevent adverse outcomes.

Keywords: Antianxiety agents; Benzodiazepines; Public health; Sedative/hypnotic drugs; Sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benzodiazepines / administration & dosage*
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Benzodiazepines