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Drug Information


What are Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that work in the central nervous system and are used for a variety of medical conditions.


Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs.  This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages travelling between the brain and the body.


They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin.

Progressive Diagnostics Drug Info - Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, also known as minor tranquillisers, most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve stress and anxiety and to help people sleep.


As a drug class, benzodiazepines are similar in how they work in the brain but have different potencies, durations of actions, and receptor site affinities.


Because of this, some benzodiazepines work better than others in the treatment of particular conditions.

However, there is increasing concern among medical professionals about the risks of using these drugs, particularly when they are used for a long time.


Some people use benzodiazepines illegally to become intoxicated or to help with the ‘come down’ effects of stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

Benzodiazepine Uses:


  • Sedative-hypnotics for sleep

  • Adjuncts to anesthesia to induce relaxation and amnesia (procedural memory loss)

  • To reduce anxiety (anxiolytic)

  • Panic disorders

  • To treat or prevent seizures

  • For alcohol withdrawal

  • Muscle relaxant

How are they used?


Benzodiazepines are usually swallowed. Some people also inject them.



Effects of benzodiazepines


There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.  Benzodiazepines affect everyone differently, but the effects may include:


  • Depression

  • Confusion

  • Feelings of isolation or euphoria

  • Impaired thinking and memory loss

  • Headache

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue

  • Dry mouth

  • Slurred speech or stuttering

  • Double or blurred vision

  • Impaired coordination, dizziness and tremors 

  • Nausea and loss of appetite

  • Diarrhoea or constipation



If a large amount is taken, the following may also be experienced:


  • Over-sedation or sleep

  • Jitteriness and excitability

  • Mood swings and aggression

  • Slow, shallow breathing

  • Unconsciousness or coma

  • Death (more likely when taken with another drug such as alcohol)



Injecting benzodiazepines may also cause:


  • Vein damage and scarring

  • Infection including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS

  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots causing loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly death



Injecting drugs repeatedly and sharing injecting equipment with other people increases the risk of experiencing these effects.



Long-term effects


Regular use of benzodiazepines may cause:


  • Impaired thinking or memory loss

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Irritability, paranoia and aggression

  • Personality change

  • Weakness, lethargy and lack of motivation

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping or disturbing dreams

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Skin rashes and weight gain

  • Addiction 

  • Withdrawal symptoms




Using benzodiazepines with other drugs


The effects of taking benzodiazepines with other drugs can be unpredictable and dangerous.  Benzodiazepines used with alcohol or opiates (such as heroin) can cause breathing difficulties, an increased risk of overdose and death.


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