High-Dose Benzodiazepine Dependence: A Qualitative Study of Patients’ Perceptions on Initiation, Reasons for Use, and ObtainmentReport as inadecuate

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High-dose benzodiazepine BZD dependence is associated with a wide variety of negative health consequences. Affected individuals are reported to suffer from severe mental disorders and are often unable to achieve long-term abstinence via recommended discontinuation strategies. Although it is increasingly understood that treatment interventions should take subjective experiences and beliefs into account, the perceptions of this group of individuals remain under-investigated.


We conducted an exploratory qualitative study with 41 adult subjects meeting criteria for high-dose BZD-dependence, as defined by ICD-10. One-on-one in-depth interviews allowed for an exploration of this group’s views on the reasons behind their initial and then continued use of BZDs, as well as their procurement strategies. Mayring’s qualitative content analysis was used to evaluate our data.


In this sample, all participants had developed explanatory models for why they began using BZDs. We identified a multitude of reasons that we grouped into four broad categories, as explaining continued BZD use: 1 to cope with symptoms of psychological distress or mental disorder other than substance use, 2 to manage symptoms of physical or psychological discomfort associated with somatic disorder, 3 to alleviate symptoms of substance-related disorders, and 4 for recreational purposes, that is, sensation-seeking and other social reasons. Subjects often considered BZDs less dangerous than other substances and associated their use more often with harm reduction than as recreational. Specific obtainment strategies varied widely: the majority of participants oscillated between legal and illegal methods, often relying on the black market when faced with treatment termination.


Irrespective of comorbidity, participants expressed a clear preference for medically related explanatory models for their BZD use. We therefore suggest that clinicians consider patients’ motives for long-term, high-dose BZD use when formulating treatment plans for this patient group, especially since it is known that individuals are more compliant with approaches they perceive to be manageable, tolerable, and effective.

Author: Michael Liebrenz , Marcel Schneider, Anna Buadze, Marie-Therese Gehring, Anish Dube, Carlo Caflisch

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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