For health professionals

Key points

  • Non-medicine approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy should be used first line for the treatment of anxiety disorders and insomnia.
  • Taking a benzodiazepine beyond 4 weeks significantly increases the risk of dependence and should be prescribed with caution.
  • Evidence of long-term therapeutic benefit from taking benzodiazepines is limited.
  • For patients taking benzodiazepines longer term, support and education increases the likelihood of successful deprescribing.
  • Download this template to design your own patient-focused benzodiazepine-reduction plan: Lowering your benzodiazepine dose.

Podcast – Benzodiazepines: Keep calm and prescribe responsibly

Podcast host Lynn Weekes discusses the risks of taking benzodiazepines long term, and how gradual dose tapering can be carefully and safely achieved in the primary care setting.

Podcast transcript

Podcast – Deprescribing in older people

Deprescribing is the process of discontinuing drugs that are either potentially harmful or no longer required. It can be achieved in older people and may be associated with improved health outcomes without long-term adverse effects.

Podcast transcript

Blue pill in hand

Managing benzodiazepine dependence

  • Benzodiazepine medicines can cause dependence.
  • GPs play a key role in the safe use of benzodiazepines.
  • Guidelines are available to help GPs identify and manage patients with benzodiazepine-related substance use disorder. Consider using the resources below to help identify and best manage patients with benzodiazepine dependence.

Research and references

Managing benzodiazepine dependence



The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice. Part B- Benzodiazepines

Evidence-based guidelines by the RACGP outline a variety of clinical guidelines for appropriate benzodiazepine use based on the best available evidence.


The benzodiazepine toolkit

This toolkit is designed for health practitioners to assist people who are dependent on benzodiazepines. Revised in 2018 this resource provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all aspects of benzodiazepine use, dependence and withdrawal.

Alongside this resource is a collection of fact sheets to assist the consumer in understanding the condition the benzodiazepines are helping to manage alongside self-help strategies.

Therapeutic Guidelines – Principles of benzodiazepine use in anxiety disorders (subscription required to access)

Topic | Therapeutic Guidelines (

Overview of current anxiety and associated disorder management. Outlines benzodiazepines role in therapy.

Pottie K, et al. Canadian Family Physician, 2018.

Deprescribing benzodiazepine receptor agonists – evidence based clinical practice guideline

Summation of evidence gathered from a systematic review of benzodiazepine deprescribing trials for insomnia. Includes a list of recommendations graded by quality of evidence available as well as clinical practice deprescribing guidelines.

Oude Voshaar OC, et al. Br J Psych, 2003.

Tapering off long-term benzodiazepine use with or without group cognitive behavioural therapy three-condition, randomised controlled trial

Randomised control trial reviewing the effectiveness of tapering benzodiazepines with and without the use of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Gould RL, et al. Br J Psych, 2014.

Interventions for reducing benzodiazepine use in older people: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Systematic review and meta-analyses which examines the long-term use of benzodiazepines in older people and the methods of deprescribing in this population.