Predictors of long-term benzodiazepine abstinence in participants of a randomized controlled benzodiazepine withdrawal program

Richard C. Oude Voshaar, Wim J. Gorgels, Audrey J. Mol, Anton J. Van Balkom, Jan Mulder, Eloy H. Van De Lisdonk, Marinus H. Breteler, Frans G. Zitman

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Objective: To identify predictors of resumed benzodiazepine use after participation in a benzodiazepine discontinuation trial. Method: We performed multiple Cox regression analyses to predict the long-term outcome of a 3-condition, randomized, controlled benzodiazepine discontinuation trial in general practice. Results: Of 180 patients, we completed follow-up for 170 (94%). Of these, 50 (29%) achieved long-term success, defined as no use of benzodiazepines during follow-up. Independent predictors of success were as follows: offering a taper-off program with group therapy (hazard ratio [HR] 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 3.9) or without group therapy (HR 2.9; 95%CI, 1.8 to 4.8); a lower daily benzodiazepine dosage at the start of tapering off (HR 1.5; 95%CI, 1.2 to 1.9); a substantial dosage reduction by patients themselves just before the start of tapering off (HR 2.1; 95%CI, 1.4 to 3.3); less severe benzodiazepine dependence, as measured by the Benzodiazepine Dependence Self-Report Questionnaire Lack of Compliance subscale (HR 2.4; 95%CI, 1.1 to 5.2); and no use of alcohol (HR 1.7; 95%CI, 1.2 to 2.5). Patients who used over 10 mg of diazepam equivalent, who had a score of 3 or more on the Lack of Compliance subscale, or who drank more than 2 units of alcohol daily failed to achieve long-term abstinence. Conclusions: Benzodiazepine dependence severity affects long-term taper outcome independent of treatment modality, benzodiazepine dosage, psychopathology, and personality characteristics. An identifiable subgroup needs referral to specialized care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-452
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Dependence
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Withdrawal

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