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BZRA for anxiety & insomnia

The HSE Medicines Management Programme has published guidance to support the appropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines and z-drugs (BZRA) in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. 

The guidance contains information on the initiation and review of BZRA,and highlights the safety concerns associated with their use. It provides resource material to support deprescribing of these medicines.

Non-pharmacological management options should always be considered as alternatives or additional measures to prescribing BZRA for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. 

Resources to support appropriate prescribing of BZRA in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia are located in the Related Files section below: 

  •  Guidance on appropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines and z-drugs (BZRA) in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. 
  •  Prescribing Tips and Tools for Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs (BZRA) for the Treatment of Anxiety and Insomnia.  
  •  Stopping your medicine: benzodiazepines and z-drugs. A guide for patients. 
  •  The Good Relaxation Guide.
  •  The Good Sleep Guide. 

In 2020, resources for prescribers and pharmacists to raise public awareness of the potential harm associated with BZRA were developed and are also available in the Related Files section below:

  •  Insomnia and Anxiety Medicines- Patient Guide: to print the patient guide, set the printer settings to ‘print on two sides (flip on short edge)' to ensure correct layout.
  •  Insomnia and Anxiety Medicines- poster for prescriber practices.
  •  Insomnia and Anxiety Medicines- poster for pharmacies.

These resources were developed by the HSE in collaboration with the Medical Council, Irish College of General Practitioners, Department of Health, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, Health Products Regulatory Authority, Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. 

Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division