Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs developed and prescribed by doctors to reduce anxiety, to promote sleep or to act as a muscle relaxant.
Benzodiazepines usually come in tablet or capsule form and each brand can be prescribed in different strengths.
method of use
Swallowed, sometimes injected.
They can be prescribed by a GP but are also used illicitly (without prescription) to offset the effects of stimulant drugs, or with other ‘downer’ drugs such as alcohol and heroin.
Benzodiazepines can relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety and promote calmness, relaxation and sleep.
In higher doses they can produce drowsiness, poor coordination, slurred speech, short term memory loss and disinhibition (loss of control and memory) that can make aggression and violence more likely in a similar way to alcohol.
Although these drugs can relieve tension etc. they will only mask the underlying problems, not solve them.
They may soon become ineffective as ‘sleeping tablets’ after only two weeks of continual use, and ineffective in controlling anxiety after four months of regular use.
In high doses the calming effects can be reversed and lead to severe anxiety. Because the drugs also depress the nervous system they should not be used with other depressant drugs like heroin, methadone or alcohol which would greatly increase the risk of overdose.
Benzodizepines can impair driving and other tasks requiring similar skills.
Injecting pills or capsules is particularly dangerous - especially the gel inside temazepam eggs. The chalk from pills or gel from eggs can block blood vessels which can cause gangrene, loss of blood to fingers or toes resulting in amputation and in severe cases can lead to stroke or heart failure.
Physical and psychological dependence can be a real risk with these drugs. Psychological (mental) problems are most common.
In these cases the user will quickly begin to rely on the pills to cope with life pressures and problems and become very panicky if no pills are available.
Because benzos have a similar action and effect as alcohol, some people who are dependent on alcohol can become dependent on benzos much quicker.
Withdrawal symptoms include shaking hands, sweating and seizures, and in extreme cases can prove fatal. Mood swings, anxiety, nausea, irritability, stomach cramps and insomnia are also common.
If physically dependent, DON’T STOP SUDDENLY. It is best to come off gradually. Withdrawal should be managed, so ask your doctor or drug service for help.
Benzos are class C drugs, only available on prescription. Apart from Temazepam it is not illegal to possess them without a prescription, but it is illegal to supply or sell them.