Benzodiazepine Overview

Benzodiazepine drugs is more common than you may think. Left untreated, abusing these drugs can negatively impact your relationships, career, and your physical and emotional health. Benzodiazepines are a type of medication known as tranquilizers. Familiar names include Valium and Xanax. They are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use turns into abuse.

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Sometimes people who have prescriptions misuse their medications, as well.  Taking too much and running out of the prescription, being overly focused on when you can take the next one and feeling you can’t live without it might also be signs of a problem.  benzodiazepines drugs

Doctors may prescribe a benzodiazepine for the following legitimate medical conditions:

Benzodiazepines act on the central nervous system, produce sedation and muscle relaxation, and lower anxiety levels. benzodiazepines drugs

Although more than 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been produced, only about 15 are currently FDA-approved in the United States. They are usually classified by how long their effects last. benzodiazepines drugs

Ultra-short acting – Midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion)

Short-acting – Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan)

Long-acting – Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), Clonazepam (Klonopin)

What are benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative. They are usually a short-term treatment given for 2-4 weeks. They are sometimes known as ‘benzos.’

Benzodiazepines will usually be taken through your mouth by table or solution. In rare situations they can be injected to help control panic attacks.

What are benzodiazepines used for?

Severe anxiety

You may be given benzodiazepines for the short-term relief of severe anxiety. You should not be given them for long term relief.

Panic disorders

You may be given benzodiazepines:

  • When you first start taking antidepressants, or
  • if you don’t respond to antidepressants.


Benzodiazepines can be used to treat insomnia. Insomnia means that you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

You should only be offered benzodiazepines to treat insomnia if it is severe, disabling or is causing you a lot of distress.

They should only be offered for short term use.

Acute alcohol withdrawal

Long acting benzodiazepines are used to help with the effects of acute alcohol withdrawal.

You should stay in hospital during withdrawal if you have severe alcohol dependence. Withdrawal without medical support can cause dangerous side effects such as seizures.

You can find out more information about:

  • Anxiety by clicking here.
  • Drugs, alcohol and mental health by clicking here.

Are there different types of benzodiazepines?

There are 2 different types of benzodiazepines. These are hypnotics and anxiolytics.

Hypnotics are shorter acting. They are mostly used for treating sleep problems such as insomnia.

Anxiolytics are longer lasting. They are mostly used for treating anxiety.

Below is a table of benzodiazepines and their trade names.

Hypnotic Benzodiazepines
Medicine name Trade name Use to treat
Flurazepam Dalmane Sleep problems
Loprazolam Sleep problems
Lormetazepam Sleep problems
Nitrazepam Mogadon Sleep problems
Temazapam Sleep problems
Anxiolytic Benzodiazepines
Medicine name Trade name Use to treat
Alprazolam Anxiety disorders
Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride Anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal
Diazepam Rimapan Anxiety disorders, Anxiety with sleep problems, alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms
Lorazepam Ativan Anxiety disorders
Oxazepam Anxiety disorders
Clobazam Tapclob Anxiety disorder