ScriptWise is urging all Australians prescribed a sleeping medication to also speak with their health professional about a plan to safely reduce and stop as part of its Medication Dependence Prevention Month campaign this May.
ScriptWise is launching the campaign because benzodiazepines, a common sleeping tablet with brand names such as Valium and Serepax, are commonly involved in overdose deaths in Australia.[i] In 2016, 36.7% of all overdose deaths (663) involved benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines are also highly implicated in road accidents and increase the risk of falls (particularly in the elderly).
Recent Australian research found that 81% of patients reporting a new problem of insomnia are prescribed a medication.
ScriptWise CEO Bee Mohamed says that while people can experience dependence and withdrawal symptoms while using benzodiazepines as prescribed, it is a risk that is often not discussed with patients.
International guidelines suggest benzodiazepines should be prescribed to treat anxiety and/or insomnia for less than four weeks.
It is estimated that 4 in every 10 people who take benzodiazepines regularly for more than 6 weeks will experience withdrawal symptoms.[ii]
The toolkit has interactive, evidence-based information and videos featuring experts in sleep health and the use of common sleeping tablets. For more information about managing ongoing sleep problems please visit: www.scriptwise.org.au/sleeping-tablets.