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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Anxiety And Adictive Medication

11/26/2007

Question:

I have a friend with an anxiety disorder. A doctor in the previous town she lived in precribed alprazalam for her. She has been taking this everyday for the past 5 years I have known her and has unlimited refills even though she hasn`t seen this doctor in a year. How can a doctor keep precribing such habit forming medicine if he hasn`t done any diagnosis for a year? This doesn`t seem right. And my friend drinks on top of that and I`m sure the doctor doesn`t know this.

Answer:

It is certainly not my place to pass judgment on doctors and their prescribing habits, and there may be facets to the situation that are unknown to you.  However, it is generally not an acceptable standard for doctors to prescribe medications for patients they do not regularly see or contact in some way. Once yearly is considered a minimum for most doctors caring for patients with well controlled chronic medical conditions, although depending on the condition, of course, more frequent visits may be more appropriate.

Alprazalam is generally considered a short term treatment for anxiety disorders.  I encourage you to look at the weblinks for a more up to date discussion of medications for anxiety disorders.

Related Resources:

NIH NIMH anxiety
Anxiety Disorders of America

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati