Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use Increases with Age despite Warnings for Older Adults

March 6, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Around 5% of U.S. adults use benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, alprazolam, and diazepam, but that number increases to almost 10% for adults age 65 or older, according to the results of a study published in the February 2015 issue of JAMA Psychiatry. The study, which used the LifeLink LRx Longitudinal Prescription database to retrospectively analyze all of the benzodiazepine prescriptions for adults age 18 to 80 in 2008, found that the percentage of individuals who used benzodiazepines increased with age from 2.6% (18 to 35 years) to 5.4% (36 to 50 years) to 7.4% (51 to 64 years) to 8.7% (65 to 80 years). Relatedly, the proportion of adults engaging in long-term benzodiazepine use (120 days or more) was also observed to increase with age, ranging from 14.7% at 18 to 35 years to 31.4% at 65 to 80 years; however, the proportion who received their benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist decreased with age from 15.0% at 18 to 35 years to 5.7% at 65 to 80 years.

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