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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Risk and Benzodiazepine Dependence in Older Veterans with Insomnia Symptoms.

Gutierrez L, Ghadimi S, Krall A, Hampson E, Grinberg AM, Moore AA, Dzierzewski JM, Alessi C, Martin JL, Fung CH. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Risk and Benzodiazepine Dependence in Older Veterans with Insomnia Symptoms. Clinical Gerontologist. 2022 Mar 1; 45(2):414-418.

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OBJECTIVES: To measure the rate of benzodiazepine receptor agonist (BZA) dependence in older veterans with insomnia symptoms chronically using BZAs and to assess for associations between high posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) risk and BZA dependence. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among veterans aged 55 years and older with insomnia symptoms (current or historical) and chronic use of BZAs ( = 3 months). Measurements included the Primary Care-PTSD screen (score > 2 indicates high PTSD risk) and Benzodiazepine Dependence Questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to test for associations between PTSD risk and BZA dependence. RESULTS: A high PTSD risk was observed in 40% of the participants (N  =  33). One-fifth (21.7%, N =  18) of participants met the criteria for benzodiazepine dependence (score = 23 on Benzodiazepine Dependence Questionnaire). Veterans with high PTSD risk were significantly more likely to have BZA dependence (odds ratio 10.09, 95% CI [2.39, 42.54], =  .002). CONCLUSIONS: In older veterans with insomnia symptoms and chronic use of BZAs, high PTSD risk is associated with elevated risk for BZA dependence, which may make discontinuation of these medications difficult. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Clinicians should consider the strong association between PTSD symptoms and benzodiazepine dependence when developing plans to taper a BZA in veterans with these symptoms.

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