BENZODIAZEPINE PRESCRIPTION PATTERNS AND DEPENDENCE RISK IN A GENERAL HOSPITAL IN SINGAPORE
Leslie Lim, Herng Nieng Chan, Joyce Lim, Dylan Wong, Yiong Huak Chan
Objective: Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are widely used in the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders, although one concern is its potential for tolerance and dependence compared to other classes of drugs. The study assessed BDZ prescription patterns and investigated to what extent dependency developed in the course of receiving such medications. Methods: From analysis of 276 randomly selected case records over a one-year period, socio-demographic and prescription-relevant data were extracted from 118 outpatients who were receiving BZD prescriptions from a general hospital in Singapore. We used three pre-determined surrogate indicators of possible dependence and made comparisons between patients with any of the surrogate indicators versus those without. Results: The characteristics of the BZD patients mostly followed Singaporean demographic trends. There was a higher prevalence of persons receiving BZDs in the 40-59 year age group. Less than half (about 43%) were on benzodiazepines. Although 31.4% had either one or two indicators, none had all three indicators, suggesting that any addiction potential of the BZDs had been regulated well. Dosages remained fairly constant among those receiving regular BZDs and those receiving prn dosing, with only approximately 10-20% changing dosages. Conclusion: Our study confirms the hypothesis that patients exhibit an insignificant rate of possible dependence.