Overprescription of sedatives and tranquillizers

Other Names:
Overuse of hypnotics
Addiction to anxiolytics
Dependence on sleeping pills
Dependence on minor tranquillizers
Patient misuse of anti-anxiety agents
Abuse of barbiturates and non-barbiturate hypnotics
Non-prescribed use of sedative drugs
Recreational use of sedative-hypnotics

More women than men are using tranquillizers or sleeping pills. When men and women report similar psychological or psychosomatic symptoms, men are more likely to be given physical and laboratory tests, and women are more likely to be given drugs. Women are also more likely to be given a repeat prescription once they have been prescribed a minor tranquillizer.

Benzodiazepines, are sedative hypnotic anxiolytics (“depressants” that reduce anxiety). They significantly reduce brain activity but have been associated with a 35% increase in developing cancer and patients receiving hypnotics are more than four times likely to die than people who are not on the drugs. It appears that the dosage plays a key role.   In addition, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and interact with neurotransmitters like GABA.  It takes several months of regular use for a person to develop addiction, tolerance and significant withdrawal symptoms.  Benzodiazepines are being grossly over-prescribed according to data published in 2018 by the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • More than 5% of US adults aged 18 to 80 years take benzodiazepines
  • The percentage who use benzodiazepines increases with age from 2.6% (18-35 years) to 5.4% (36-50 years) to 7.4% (51-64 years) to 8.7% (65-80 years)
  • The prevalence of women users is nearly twice as much as men
  • Long-term use categorized by age is; 14.7% (18-35 years) to 31.4% (65-80 years)
  • Interestingly, the number of prescriptions from a psychiatrist decreases with age – 15.0% (18-35 years) to 5.7% (65-80 years)
  • In all age groups, roughly one-quarter of individuals receiving benzodiazepine involved long-acting benzodiazepine use.
Broader Problems:
Abuse of prescription drugs
Sedative intoxication
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST