Boomers Taking Anti-anxiety Drugs Too Long

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 21 (UPI) — Despite warnings against long-term use, the use of risky anti-anxiety drugs may be spreading to baby boomers, Canadian researchers warn.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia say benzodiazepines are more likely to be used long term by seniors and low-income earners — with rates remaining steady over a 10-year period — despite warnings against long-term use.

Lead author Colleen Cunningham says prescriptions for these drugs used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders were on the increase among the middle-aged.

The study, published in the journal Health Policy, said long-term use — more than 100 days per year — is not only associated with dependence and tolerance, but can also cause cognitive impairment and increased risk of falls.

“Given the potential for dependence and harms associated with these drugs, they are recommended to be used sparingly for short periods,” Cunningham says in a statement. “However, our study suggests that a significant number of British Columbians — especially the elderly who suffer greater health risks from falls — are using them for long periods.”

Cunningham and colleagues compared health records of British Columbia residents from 1996 to 2006. They found 4.9 percent of the population were given short-term and 3.5 percent long-term prescriptions for benzodiazepines in 2006. Two out of three were women.

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