A combination of benzodiazepine sedatives is used to calm, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, as well as to prevent seizures. In general, benzodiazepines act as hypnotics when using large doses, as anxiolytics when using moderate doses and as sedatives – in small doses. Of the drugs that are sold in the United States and affect the functions of the central nervous system, benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed medications and, unfortunately, are very often used. Fifteen components from this group are currently sold in the United States and twenty more are additionally distributed in other countries.
Like barbiturates, benzodiazepines differ from each other in the following parameters: how quickly they lead to effects and how long their effects last. Benzodiazepines that are used to cope with insomnia include estazolam (millet), flurazepam (dalman), quazepam (doral), temazepam (restoril) and triazolam (galcion).
Benzodiazepines with a long duration of exposure include alprazolam (xanax), chlordiazepoxide (librium), chlorazepate (tranxen), diazepam (valium), galazepam (paxipam), lorazepam (ativan), oxazepam (serax) and prazepam (centrax). These drugs, which have long-lasting effects, are primarily used in the treatment of anxiety. Midazolam (versed) is available in the United States only as an injection as an analgesic. Clonazepam (klonopin) is recommended for use in the treatment of seizures.
Benzodiazepines, in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), belong to the list of IV depressants. Repeated use of large doses or, in some cases, daily use of therapeutic doses of benzodiazepines leads to physical dependence. Withdrawal syndrome is similar to withdrawal syndrome after taking alcohol, but most often it is much more unpleasant and lasts much longer than withdrawal from drugs, and also requires hospitalization. Sudden cessation of benzodiazepine use is not recommended, while a gradual reduction in the amount of the dose eliminates many undesirable symptoms.
Flunitrazepam (rohypnol), which produces the same effect as diazepam, is becoming a very popular drug among young people. This drug is not sold legally in the United States, but is smuggled by drug traffickers.
Of all the people who are prescribed benzodiazepines, a relatively small number of patients increase their doses or they begin to behave as if they are trying to find and take drugs. However, those people who use benzodiazepines have this drug available, receiving prescriptions from several doctors, forging prescriptions or buying pharmaceutical products on the illegal market. Use most often occurs in adolescents and young people who take benzodiazepines to feel the “buzz”. This excited state leads to inhibition and a delayed ability to make judgments. Simultaneous use of alcohol or other depressants along with benzodiazepines can be life-threatening. The level of benzodiazepine use is particularly high among heroin and cocaine addicts. Approximately 50% of people who receive treatment for addiction to drugs or cocaine have a tendency to use benzodiazepines.