Chronic use of benzodiazepines (BDZs) is a widespread phenomenon which can lead to side effects such as tolerance, dependence and cognitive impairment, as well as resulting in accidents at work. High-dose BDZ dependence (HD-BDZ) is little studied, and it is mainly attributed to major psychiatric disorders and polydrug abuse. To date, few studies have investigated HD-BDZ among active workers, with none among health-care professionals (HPs). Tapering from high doses of BDZs can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures. The Addiction Unit of the University Hospital in Verona uses a protocol based on flumazenil slow infusion (FLU-SI), the safest and most effective treatment for HD-BDZ. Since 2003, 1281 patients have been detoxified from long-term use of high doses of BDZ using FLU-SI. The sample includes 139 (10.8%) HPs. Mean daily doses were 336 mg diazepam equivalent among HPs and 365 mg diazepam equivalent among non-HPs (no statistically significant difference). HPs are at higher risk of sleep disorders and work-related stress. Most of these HPs experience difficulties at work due to cognitive impairment, but they are often afraid of the potential legal implications and too ashamed to ask for help. It is important to study the prevalence of HD-BDZ among HPs and to investigate the impact on their working skills and working eligibility.
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