Many doctors worry about the negative effects of benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs such as alprazolam for older people. They have been linked to an increased risk of dementia and falls. Getting off such medications can be quite challenging, however.
In an innovative study, community pharmacies were randomly assigned to offer their older customers on benzos usual care or a patient empowerment initiative. During the study, two-thirds of those who had been offered the empowerment initiative talked with their doctor or pharmacist about how to discontinue the drug. After six months, more than a fourth of these people had successfully withdrawn themselves, compared to just 5 percent of those in the usual care control group.
These results seem to argue for a greater role of pharmacists empowering their older customers for safe medication use.