THE WIDESPREAD use of benzodiazepines has been a source of concern and debate, due in large part to the traditional association of "mood-altering" or sedating drugs with problems of abuse and dependence. Such problems have indeed been reported with the benzodiazepines, and the view has emerged that abuse and dependence might account for a substantial proportion of benzodiazepine use. On the other hand, many investigators1-5 have found that most use of benzodiazepines is appropriate to the prevalence of the medical and psychiatric conditions for which they are deemed effective. Physicians prescribing these drugs are faced with the need to weigh the potential risk to their patients against the drugs' demonstrated benefit in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.
We have recently conducted a comprehensive review of the extensive experimental, clinical, and epidemiologic literature pertinent to the use and abuse of benzodiazepines.6 Our review indicates that these two predominant