The sedating medications called benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. They have fallen out of favor because they can cause falls in people with impaired balance or vision. They can be used for short periods for sleeplessness and anxiety, but only for two or three weeks at most. Long-term users may need to taper off these drugs gradually to prevent unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Alternatives are available that are just as effective and less risky.
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