Benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal in elderly patients

Am J Psychiatry. 1989 Apr;146(4):529-31. doi: 10.1176/ajp.146.4.529.


Severity of withdrawal symptoms and clinical outcome were compared in 19 elderly and 22 younger benzodiazepine-dependent patients matched for benzodiazepine half-life, dosage, and duration of treatment. During gradual taper of benzodiazepine doses, the elderly patients showed significantly less severe withdrawal symptoms on several clinical measures and a comparably favorable outcome. Approximately half of each group remained benzodiazepine free for at least 4 weeks. Both groups of patients tolerated drug discontinuation without serious consequences such as seizures or psychosis. Tapered benzodiazepine withdrawal did not appear to be more risky for the elderly group than for the younger patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / chemically induced
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects*
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Benzodiazepines