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Attitudes Toward Benzodiazepines Over the Years

Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD

Published: February 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Benzodiazepines have been used extensively for the treatment of anxiety and related disorderssince the 1960s. Although they have been proven to be effective as first-line treatment for anxiety disorders,during the 1980s public perception and concern for abuse liability and physical dependencewith long-term use gave rise to a great deal of controversy. Negative perceptions toward the use ofbenzodiazepines for treating anxiety not only caused severely ill patients to go untreated or undertreatedbut also called into question whether the illness itself was worthy of treatment. Although newpharmacologic and psychological treatments for anxiety are available, psychopharmacologists continueto endorse benzodiazepines as primary or adjunct treatment for anxiety disorders. The intent ofthis article is to provide a historic overview of these issues and to offer some general clinical principlesto help minimize the risk of abuse and dependence with benzodiazepine use.

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