Benzodiazepines: what you need to know
Benzodiazepines are a class of widely prescribed central nervous system depressants with anxiolytic, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects. Known as minor tranquillisers and primarily used as sleeping pills. Benzodiazepines drugs are a class of drugs that can treat a range of conditions. Doctors often prescribe benzodiazepine drugs to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. The short-term use of these medications is usually safe and effective, but long-term use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and other adverse effects.
The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines and the conditions they’re typically prescribed to treat include:
- Xanax (alprazolam) treats anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and sometimes agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
- Klonopin (clonazepam) treats panic attacks and seizures.
- Valium (diazepam) is used to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal, as well as IBS and panic attacks.
- Ativan (lorazepam) is primarily prescribed for anxiety and may also be used for seizures, IBS, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and help nausea and vomiting in people receiving cancer treatments.
- Halcion (triazolam) is used as a short-term treatment for insomnia.
Other benzodiazepines and the conditions they’re typically prescribed to treat include:
- Restoril (temazepam), estazolam, and flurazepam are short-term treatments for insomnia.
- Versed (midazolam) is typically used in children before medical procedures or surgery.
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide) treats anxiety and alcohol withdrawal, as well as IBS.
- Tranxene (clorazepate) is used for anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and other medications to control seizures.
- Oxazepam treats anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and IBS.
Chronic abuse can result in addiction. Acute higher doses lead to drowsiness, slurred words, mood swings, dizziness, muscle relaxation, lethargy, coma and possible death. A wide range of withdrawal symptoms can occur when stopping benzodiazepines. They include:
- anxiety and panic
- agitation and restlessness
- sleep problems
- shortness of breath
- muscle cramps
- gastrointestinal problems
- feelings of unreality
- headaches and muscle pain
Cranky, tired, have no interest in doing everyday things.
Long-term use can cause a crippling dependence, deep unconsciousness, dementia, and when large amounts are combined with opiates or alcohol, a fatal overdose could occur.
Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for no more than two to four weeks. When they’re taken for more extended periods, benzodiazepines can lead to tolerance and dependence, meaning that your body will require more of the drug to achieve the same therapeutic effect. This can lead to abuse and/or addiction. Misuse of these drugs is the highest in people who also use heroin or cocaine.
Many benzodiazepines share a standard metabolic route and are excreted as oxazepam and its glucuronide in urine. Oxazepam is detectable in the urine for up to 7 days after drug use.
For detecting benzodiazepines, urine drug tests are the best way to do it. We help companies test the use of benzodiazepines in Australia wide with our reliable urine drug tests.