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Off-Label Use of Medications for Treatment of Benzodiazepine Use Disorder

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There is a high rate of benzodiazepine use in the population. Benzodiazepines are used for multiple indications (anxiety, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, muscular relaxation and anesthesia). Benzodiazepines are also addictive substances and a non-negligible fraction of regular users will develop dependence. There is currently no approved pharmacotherapy for benzodiazepine use disorder treatment and optimal strategies for treatment are unclear. In this review, we aimed to summarize the findings on off-label pharmacologic therapy that have been used for BZD dependence. One classical approach is to provide a slow taper associated with counseling. Anti-epileptic drugs appear also to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal. The long-term strategies of maintenance therapy (with benzodiazepine) or of blocking therapy (with a GABA antagonist such as flumazenil) could provide some clinical benefit but have not yet been tested appropriately. Pregabalin appears promising and deserves further investigation. There is a clear need for more clinical trials in this area to improve care.
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Keywords: Agonist; benzodiazepine; dependence; medication; off-label; pregabalin; replacement; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2015

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