Emerging topics – misuse of medicines

The EMCDDA defines misuse of medicines as the use of a psychoactive medicine with or without a prescription from an appropriate practitioner, clearly outside of accepted medical practice or guidelines, for either self-medication, recreational or enhancement purposes, including in the context of poly drug use.

What works?

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy helps to reduce use of benzodiazepines when added to tapering dosages in the short term only the effect is not sustained at 6 months follow-up
  •  Three small studies investigating tailored letters sent by GPs to patients, standardised interview with GPs plus tapered doses and relaxation techniques showed promising results that deserve further research. Specifically, letters to GPs resulted in discontinuation of benzodiazepines; standardized interview resulted in benzodiazepinesurine toxicology reduction and relaxation in reduction of benzodiazepines use

What's unclear?

  • It is not clear if motivational interviewing helps to reduce benzodiazepine use

What doesn't work?

  • So far, we are not aware of interventions which proved to cause harm

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