Overprescribing of Benzodiazepines


Norwegian researchers found that 14.6% (27,861) of patients who were prescribed benzodiazepines used two simultaneously, despite the fact that all benzodiazepines have essentially the same mechanism of action. 6.9% (13,267) of the patients were prescribed at least two different benzos on the same prescription. The results will be published in an upcoming issue of Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Antipsychotics work on the same mechanism of action, antidepressents work on the same mechanism of action and yet they are always prescribed in more than one at a time, especially antipscyhotics. There are very few people I know of who are not taking at least two antipsychotics at the same time. And of course the research also shows it is doctors making these prescriptions, usually the same doctors. But they do very little to change doctors prescribing habits and to be honest it is hard to do, it is not as though doctors are given anything else they can do. People are being educated to go to doctors at the slightest bit of saddness or stress and doctors are expected to fix them. Doctors have no training in how to do anything for these people except to prescribe medication. They do not know what good sleep hygiene is or even how to educate patients about those things. They don’t talk about diet or exercise or how to support patients to improve those things. All they know about is drugs and then they can’t work out why they prescribe them out of all proportion.

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