The epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose has appropriately garnered national attention and led to concerted efforts to reduce overprescribing of opioids, a major cause of today’s drug crisis. By contrast, there has been little effort to address inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines — controlled substances such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved benzodiazepines for a diverse set of clinical indications, including anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and acute alcohol withdrawal. These drugs are also prescribed off-label for many other conditions, such as restless legs syndrome and depression.
Anna Lembke, M.D., Jennifer Papac, M.D., and Keith Humphreys, Ph.D.