Learning and memory impairment in older, detoxified, benzodiazepine-dependent patients

Mayo Clin Proc. 1993 Aug;68(8):731-7. doi: 10.1016/s0025-6196(12)60628-4.


The effects of benzodiazepine dependence on the ability to learn and remember new material (determined with the Auditory-Verbal Learning Test) were studied in 20 detoxified, benzodiazepine-dependent patients who were 55 years of age or older and in a drug-dependence rehabilitation program. The patients were matched approximately for age, sex, and IQ with 20 detoxified, alcohol-dependent patients in the same rehabilitation program and 22 control subjects from a community sample. Neuropsychologic testing was performed a mean of 6 to 10 days after the patients had been completely detoxified from the addicting substance. The benzodiazepine-dependent patients had more difficulty with tests of learning and short-term and delayed recall than did the alcohol-dependent or control group. The difference between the benzodiazepine-dependent patients and the control group was statistically significant. The results suggest that benzodiazepine dependence in older people can cause memory impairment that persists into the early drug-free period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Benzodiazepines / administration & dosage
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Benzodiazepines