Chronic use of benzodiazepines among older adults

  • Jussara Mendonça Alvarenga Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou
  • Karla Cristina Giacomin Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou; Núcleo de Estudos em Saúde Pública e Envelhecimento
  • Antônio Ignácio de Loyola Filho Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais; Escola de Enfermagem; Departamento de Enfermagem Aplicada
  • Elizabeth Uchoa Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou; Núcleo de Estudos em Saúde Pública e Envelhecimento
  • Josélia Oliveira Araújo Firmo Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou; Núcleo de Estudos em Saúde Pública e Envelhecimento

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To analyze the perception of and motivation for the chronic use of benzodiazepine among older adults. METHODS A qualitative study was conducted on 22 older adults living in Bambuí, MG, Southeastern Brazil, who were taking benzodiazepines and had the clinical and cognitive ability to respond to interview questions. The collected data were analyzed on the basis of the “signs, meanings, and actions” model. RESULTS The main reasons pointed out for the use of benzodiazepines were “nervousness”, “sleep problems”, and “worry” due to family and financial problems, everyday problems, and existential difficulties. None of the interviewees said that they used benzodiazepines in a dose higher than that recommended or had been warned by health professionals about any risks of their continuous use. Different strategies were used to obtain the prescription for the medication, and any physician would prescribe it, indicating that a bond was established with the drug and not with the health professional or healthcare service. Obtaining and consuming the medication turned into a crucial issue because benzodiazepine assumes the status of an essential food, which leads users to not think but sleep. It causes a feeling of relief from their problems such as awareness of human finitude and fragility, existential difficulties, and family problems. CONCLUSIONS Benzodiazepine assumes the characteristics of polyvalence among older adults, which extrapolate specific clinical indications, and of essentiality to deal with life’s problems in old age. Although it relieves the “nerves”, the chronic use of benzodiazepines buffers suffering and prevents older adults from going through the suffering. This shows important difficulties in the organization and planning of strategies that are necessary for minimizing the chronic use in this population.
Published
2014-12-01
How to Cite
Alvarenga, J., Giacomin, K., Loyola Filho, A., Uchoa, E., & Firmo, J. (2014). Chronic use of benzodiazepines among older adults. Revista De Saúde Pública, 48(6), 866-872. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0034-8910.2014048004986
Section
Original Articles