Up to 1.6 million Germans-which represents 2 per cent of the population-are dependent on benzodiazepines such as valium, new figures suggest. Most are taking them for insomnia.
Although the drugs, classified as hypnotics and tranquillizers, are supposed to be prescribed for four-week periods, many are taking them for far longer, and have become dependent on them, say researchers.
Around 460 million doses of benzodiazepine are prescribed every day in Germany, but up to 1.6 million people could be on long-term repeat prescriptions and have become dependent on the drugs. One out of two prescriptions is for insomnia and 25 per cent are for restlessness, nervousness, or states of agitation or tension.
Withdrawal from the drugs is difficult, and may even require in-house hospital treatment.
(Source: Deutsches Arzteblatt International, 2015; doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2015.0001)