Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the discontinuation of long-term benzodiazepine use in insomnia and anxiety disorders


Benzodiazepines have proven to be highly effective for treating insomnia and anxiety. Although considered safe when taken for a short period of time, a major risk–benefit dilemma arises in the context of long-term use, relating to addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and potential side effects. For these reasons, benzodiazepines are not recommended for treating chronic sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, nor for people over the age of 65, and withdrawal among long-term users is a public health issue. Indeed, only 5% of patients manage to discontinue using these drugs on their own. Even with the help of a general practitioner, this rate does not exceed 25 to 30% of patients, of which approximately 7% manage to remain drug-free in the long term. Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) offer a crucial solution to this problem, having been shown to increase abstinence success to 70–80%. This article examines traditional and novel CBT techniques in this regard, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which address both the underlying condition (insomnia/anxiety) and the substance-related disorder. The theoretical framework and evidence supporting the use of these approaches are reviewed. Finally, current research gaps are discussed, and key research perspectives are proposed.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health