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A Clinical Profile of Patients Affected by State Regulation of Benzodiazepine Prescriptions
David J. Hellerstein; Donna M. Flansaas; Lynda D. Zweben-Howland; Lisa W. Samstag
Psychiatric Services 1994; doi:
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psychiatry at Beth Israel, is a staff psychiatrist at Holyoke (Mass.) Hospital

Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City; department of psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center, First Avenue and 16th Street, New York, New York 10003

psychiatnc outpatient services

mood disorders research unit at Beth Israel Medical Center

1994 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

In 1989 New York State extended regulation of controlled substances to benzodiazepines. To study the effects on patients, the authors examined characteristics of patients who came to a psychiatric outpatient clinic seeking benzodiazepines during the year after the regulation took effect.Methods: Demographic and clinical characteristics of 44 patients who sought benzodiazepines were compared with those of 297 other patients evaluated at the clinic during the same period. Compliance with clinic treatment recommendations by patients who sought benzodiazepines was assessed at six-month follow-up.Results: Patients seeking benzodiazepines were predominantly impoverished minority women with a diagnosis of a mood disorder or anxiety disorder. Most were not drug or alcohol abusers. After evaluation at the clinic, nearly half received prescriptions for antidepressant medications instead of benzodiazepines. Although the patients seeking benzodiazepines bad many psychosocial problems, they bad poor compliance with clinic psychotherapy interventions.Conclusions: Regulation of benzodiazepine prescriptions appeared to significantly disrupt the treatment of some patients and to encourage them to seek treatment in a psychiatric setting. The high frequency of mood disorders among these patients suggests that some patients may have been misdiagnosed earlier as having anxiety disorder and raises questions about the appropriateness of their previous use of benzodiazepines.

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