Benzodiazepines: Risks and Benefits

Drug Class

  • Sedatives
  • Hypnotics
  • Anxiolytics

How common is benzodiazepine use?

Prescribing of hypnotic and anxiolytic drugs is increasing. In 2011-12 more than 16 million prescriptions for these drugs were written in general practice in England.

Adverse Effects

Increased risk of:

  • dementia and other psychomotor impairments (daytime fatigue, ataxia, falls, and road traffic incidents)
  • cancer
  • pneumonia, and other infections
  • premature mortality



This document is prepared by the “Mental Health for All” team. This document is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the Essentials of Medicine. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.


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