The American Psychiatric Association (APA) publication Psychiatric News has released an article about the recent British Medical Journal study finding strong links between long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs and increases in Alzheimer’s. “Somewhere along the way, the message got lost, and patients were allowed to use benzodiazepines for months and years,” Mohit P. Chopra, M.D., a member of the APA’s Council on Geriatric Psychiatry, told Psychiatric News.
The BMJ study found that “use of benzodiazepines for three months or more was associated with an increased risk — up to 51 percent — for (Alzheimer’s). The association increased even more with longer exposure,” reports Psychiatric News. The study was recently reviewed in detail by MIA Blogger Philip Hickey.
Chopra was not involved with the BMJ study, but told Psychiatric News that benzodiazepines should not be used on a daily basis for longer than four to six weeks.
“In 2012, the American Geriatric Society (AGS) updated its list of potentially inappropriate drugs for older adults to include benzodiazepines, precisely because of cognitive side effects,” reports Psychiatric News. “Yet, AGS reported, almost 50 percent of older adults who have been prescribed benzodiazepines continue to use such drugs without any formal monitoring system to indicate how they are responding to the drugs.”
Long-Term Use of Benzodiazepines May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s (Psychiatric News, October 15, 2014)