Why doesn’t the FDA approve long-term use of benzodiazepines (benzos)?

I read somewhere that the FDA doesn't approve the long-term use of benzos (Xanax, Valium, etc.). What is that about? I thought benzos were mild drugs, often vital to many people's mental health..

asked 16 Feb '12, 03:06

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Jack ♦
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A benzodiazepine, also known as a “benzo” or “BZD”, is a drug most commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, seizures and muscle spasms. Benzos also treat substance withdrawals and are used to stabilize patients for medical procedures. Long-term benzo use is controversial because of its ability to quickly raise tolerance and create physical dependence. Despite the drug’s relatively mild reputation, benzo withdrawal can be life-threatening if not carried out in a medical setting. Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, and other “tranquilizers”.

(25 Feb '12, 12:37) Jack ♦


Drug Addiction

Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and withdrawal may be fatal.


Prescription Drugs

Benzodiazepines are available by prescription only.



Benzodiazepines are prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, restlessness, and other mental health issues.



Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine.

None of the benzos are approved for long-term use by the FDA due to their high potential for physical dependence. Heavy and/or long-term use of these drugs can cause permanent changes in the brain, and withdrawal can be prolonged and dangerous. High blood pressure spikes, convulsions and other complications are common in withdrawals, unless detox is carried out by trained medical personnel. Post-acute withdrawal (the period during which the brain and body are returning to normal) can last for months or years, even when the damage is not permanent.


What is "long term" in this situation? Years? And does this mean everyone on antipsychs is headed for rehab eventually?

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Asked: 16 Feb '12, 03:06

Seen: 3,547 times

Last updated: 16 Apr '12, 16:39