Benzodiazepine Use - Health Care Professionals

Clinical Guidelines

Discover the guidelines on benzodiazepine use in older adults.

For Older Adults & Care Partners

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Benzodiazepines (BZRAs) are the most prescribed psychiatric medication for older adults. Despite agreement that BZRAs should be avoided whenever possible, they continue to be frequently prescribed. A person-centred, stepped care approach by gradual dose reductions should be used in the management of BZRA use disorder.

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Read the Guidelines

Discover these evidence-based guidelines on the prevention, identification, assessment, and management of benzodiazepine use disorder in older adults.

Important takeaways from these guidelines

  • Health care providers should use non-pharmacological approaches for anxiety and insomnia and advocate for more resources.
  • BZRAs should never be prescribed for longer than 4 weeks. Health care providers should work towards gradual withdrawal and discontinuation where possible.
  • Patients should be made aware of BZRAs limited use and risks.
  • There are resources available to support the withdrawal and discontinuation of BZRAs and for alternate treatments of anxiety and insomnia.

Discover online resources for Benzodiazepine Use Disorder. This list is designed to help primary health care & clinical care providers assess and discuss with persons aged 65 or older, the potential risks and benefits of taking benzodiazepines.

Read the Canadian Geriatrics Journal consensus statement in Vol. 23 No. 1 (2020).

Watch the webinar below which summarizes the Clinical Guidelines on Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist (BZRAs) Use Disorder Among Older Adults.

Dr. David K. Conn, MB, FRCPC, is the vice-president of Education and director of the Centre for Education and Knowledge Exchange in Aging at Baycrest, and a professor in the department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is the founding co-chair of the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health.

Watch the following National ECHO webinar substance use disorder in older adults.

Jonathan Bertram, MD, CCFP, is an addiction medicine physician at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health with a special interest in First Nations outreach and older adults in the context of pain and addiction treatment.



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