High-Dose Benzodiazepine Users' Perceptions and Experiences of Anterograde Amnesia.

Liebrenz, Michael; Schneider, Marcel; Buadze, Anna; Gehring, Marie-Therese; Dube, Anish; Caflisch, Carlo (2016). High-Dose Benzodiazepine Users' Perceptions and Experiences of Anterograde Amnesia. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 44(3), pp. 328-337. American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

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Associations between criminal activity and the use of psychotropic substances are well established. Flunitrazepam, specifically, has been suspected of triggering, per se, violent criminal behavior and severe memory disturbances in the form of anterograde amnesia. However, data from investigations of this relationship are scarce and have been primarily derived from forensic institutions, where there may be a reporting bias. This study was a qualitative exploration of high-dose benzodiazepine users' experiences of anterograde amnesia symptoms and their beliefs about their behavior during the phases of memory impairment in a nonforensic setting. Users subjectively reported experiencing symptoms of anterograde amnesia, especially after combining short-acting benzodiazepines with alcohol, but only rarely when using slow-onset, long-acting compounds. They perceived their experiences as unpleasurable, unpredictable, and embarrassing. Their awareness developed with time, triggered by descriptions of disinhibited and erratic behavior by others. Users described being victimized during phases of anterograde amnesia in addition to engaging in violent and criminal activities themselves. Although unable to recall, many participants believed that they had been able to make rational decisions while intoxicated with flunitrazepam, disregarding notions of diminished insight. In light of the varying terminology used for the phases of memory disturbance and these findings, we suggest that forensic experts additionally explore evaluees' beliefs about amnestic periods and their self-perceptions about their behaviors during these episodes, when evaluating high-dose benzodiazepine-dependent patients.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Psychiatric Services

UniBE Contributor:

Liebrenz, Michael

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

1943-3662

Publisher:

American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Language:

English

Submitter:

Antoinette Angehrn

Date Deposited:

09 Nov 2016 13:10

Last Modified:

09 Nov 2016 13:10

PubMed ID:

27644866

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.89433

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/89433

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