Bridging the gap between education and appropriate use of benzodiazepines in psychiatric clinical practice

Bernardo Dell’Osso, Umberto Albert, Anna Rita Atti, Claudia Carmassi, Giuseppe Carrà, Fiammetta Cosci, Valeria Del Vecchio, Marco Di Nicola, Silvia Ferrari, Arianna Goracci, Felice Iasevoli, Mario Luciano, Giovanni Martinotti, Maria Giulia Nanni, Alessandra Nivoli, Federica Pinna, Nicola Poloni, Maurizio Pompili, Gaia Sampogna, Ilaria TarriconeSarah Tosato, Umberto Volpe, Andrea Fiorillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More than half a century after their discovery, benzodiazepines (BDZs) still represent one of the largest and most widely prescribed groups of psychotropic compounds, not only in clinical psychiatry but also in the entire medical field. Over the last two decades, however, there has been an increased focus on the development of antidepressants and antipsychotics on the part of the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians, and researchers, with a reduced interest in BDZs, in spite of their widespread clinical use. As a consequence, many psychiatric residents, medical students, nurses, and other mental health professionals might receive poor academic teaching and training regarding these agents, and have the false impression that BDZs represent an outdated chapter in clinical psychopharmacology. However, recent advances in the field, including findings concerning epidemiology, addiction risk, and drug interactions, as well as the introduction of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition with related diagnostic changes, strongly encourage an updated appraisal of the use of BDZs in clinical practice. During a recent thematic event convened with the aim of approaching this topic in a critical manner, a group of young Italian psychiatrists attempted to highlight possible flaws in current teaching pathways, identify the main clinical pros and cons regarding current use of BDZs in clinical practice, and provide an updated overview of their use across specific clinical areas and patient populations. The main results are presented and discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1885-1909
Number of pages25
JournalNeuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2015


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Psychiatric clinical practice
  • Risks and benefits
  • Teaching issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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