Benzodiazepine use disorder and cognitive impairment in older patients: A six-month-follow-up study in an outpatient unit in Barcelona

Elena Ros-Cucurull, Raúl Felipe Palma-álvarez, Elena García-Raboso, Cristina Cardona-Rubira, Carlos Jacas, Lara Grau-López, María Robles-Martínez, Constanza Daigre, Salvador Ros-Montalbán, Miguel Casas, Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, Carlos Roncero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc. All rights reserved. Objective: Adverse health effects including cognitive impairment have been described in older adults with benzodiazepine misuse, although the literature about this issue is scarce. The present study aimed to assess cognitive decline in older adults with benzodiazepine use disorder and changes in cognitive state at the 6-month follow-up, as well as whether patients achieved abstinence. Method: A 6-month follow-up longitudinal study was conducted in an outpatient drug center in Barcelona in a sample of older adults (≥65 years old) who had benzodiazepine use disorder. The sample was compared with an equivalent control group. A neuropsychological protocol was performed at baseline and after 6-month follow-up covering the most important cognitive domains. Results: The final sample comprised 33 patients with an average age of 73.5 years. At baseline, patients presented impairment in several domains compared with the control group: visual immediate recall (p < .001), visual delayed recall (p < .001), copy (p < .001), working memory (p < .003), immediate verbal learning (p < .002), total words learned (p < .009), set switching (p < .001), verbal fluency (p < .007), speed processing (p < .002), solving problems (p < .006), nonverbal fluency (p < .004), and sustained attention in all three areas omissions (p < .001), variability (p < .001), and perseverance (p < .005). At 6-month follow-up, patients achieving abstinence showed improvement compared with patients in active consumption in visual delayed recall (p < .006), total words learned (p < .010), and verbal fluency (p < .013). Conclusions: Benzodiazepine misuse in older adults may produce negative effects on cognitive skills. Recovery of some of these cognitive deficits may be possible with benzodiazepine abstinence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-852
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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