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Prescribing Guidelines for Benzodiazepines from NYC Department of Health

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has developed prescribing guidelines for providers regarding benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are commonly and increasingly involved in preventable overdose deaths in New York City.

Key messages in these guidelines include:

  • Prescribing the lowest effective dose of benzodiazepines for the shortest duration of time if possible—no more than 2 to 4 weeks
  • Avoiding co-prescribing benzodiazepines and opioid analgesics because of the risk of fatal respiratory depression
  • Talking to patients about their benzodiazepine prescriptions
  • Discontinuing benzodiazepine treatment

These guidelines also discuss non-benzodiazepine treatments for anxiety and insomnia, common myths and facts about benzodiazepines, drug interactions, and working with special populations (e.g., elderly and pregnant women).

To learn more about how providers can reduce the risk of benzodiazepine-involved overdose in their patients, please see the full guidelines at: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/chi/chi-35-2.pdf

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