Brief Description

Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Because of concerns about their addictiveness, they are mainly recommended only to be used in such cases for short-term use and when the problems are severe.


Brand names

Alprozolam (Xanax), Diazapam (Valium), Lorazapam (Ativan) and Temazepam amongst many others.


How Benzodiazepines work

Benzodiazepines are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and sedation (drowsiness).  Benzodiazepine drugs (also called benzos) are habit forming and can lead to addiction. Long-term use also can lead to tolerance, which means that lower doses will become ineffective and patients will need higher doses.


Benzodiazepines and the law

  • Unauthorised possession (i.e. without a prescription) could result in a prison sentence of up to 2 years and an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying, which includes giving some to your friends, could mean up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine


The risks

  • They can be highly addictive, and so are mainly recommended only for short-term use in medicine.
  • People who are addicted to tranquillisers can experience nasty withdrawal symptoms, which can include decreased concentration, tremors, nausea, vomiting, headaches, anxiety, panic attacks and depression
  • Sudden withdrawal after big doses or from some specific drugs can cause panic attacks and fits. Very uncomfortable bodily sensations can also develop; and fits can occur, which in severe cases can be fatal.
  • Some have been shown to cause short-term memory loss and big doses can make a user forgetful and make them overly sleepy.


For more information please contact CGL Gloucestershire on 01452 223 014