Commonly Abused Drug Benzodiazepines Fact Sheet


Chemical Structure: Any benzodiazepine will be of the family of drugs that have a chemical structure consisting of a fusion of a "benzene ring" and a "diazepine ring". (Abbreviated BZD to reflect this fusion).

Classification:  Due to the wide range of variations of molecular side strains to the above core structure, Benzodiazepines are classified from among the following:

  • Hypnotic
  • Tranquilizer
  • Sedative
  • Muscle Relaxant
  • Anti Convulsive
  • Anxiolitic (meaning a drug which reduces anxiety)
  • Amnesiatic (produces memory loss)

Administration: Can be taken in pill or capsule form orally, rectally,  injected or taken intravenously.

Street Names: Benzos, Downers (also used to refer to Barbiturates) , BZD's, Goofball, Tranx, Heavenly Blue, Valley Girl (refers to Valium)

Benzodiazepine Drug Names: There are many, some of the more common ones include

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Flurazepam
  • Halcion
  • Rohypnol (date rape drug)

And many, many others.

Short Term Effects of Benzodiazepines

Generally Benzo type drugs are depressants, prescribed to promote calmness, relief from anxiety, and relaxation. They are also used in alcohol detox and dental or other surgery. Side effect can occur such as:

  • Euphoria
  • Mood swings
  • Hostility and aggression
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of motor controls
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Slowed breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Altered vision

Long Term Effects of Benzos

Because it accumulates in the fatty tissues over time, the following are common after multiple dosing, or long term use:

  • Mood swings
  • Impaired cognitive and judgement faculties
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscular spasms
  • Personality changes
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Violence
  • Depersonalization disorder (feels disconnected to body and environment)
  • Dissociative Disorder (loses normal concept of identity of self)

Benzodiazepine Withdrawals: Can be severe. Due to long acting nature of  Benzodiazepine drugs it can take months or years to taper down safely. These drugs act on GABA receptors which are not only in the brain, but in every part of the body. Likewise, withdrawals can affect every system in the body.  Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Seizures
  • Phobias i.e. fear of water, fear of heights, fear of people, and so on.
  • Emotional dysfunction, i.e. feeling agitated, uncontrollable laughter, hysteria etc.
  • Visual dysfunction, i.e. flashes of light, blurred vision, double vision, rapid blinking, etc.
  • Anxiety, i.e. fear of sudden death, panic attacks, fear of impending doom, etc.
  • Urinary dysfunction, i.e. bleeding, incontinence, menstrual irregularities
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunction, i.e. cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
  • Skin irregularities, i.e. itching, blotches, rashes, burning feeling, electrical sensations
  • Brain zaps, severe migraines, burning or pain radiating from the scalp, dental pain
  • Extreme muscle rigidity
  • and many many more severe withdrawal symptoms

Treatment for Benzo Addiction

Due to the pervasive nature of how benzodiazepine drugs affect each and every system in the body, it is only recommended that detox and taper be done under strict medical supervision.  It can be life threatening to stop benzo use abruptly without medical supervision and oversight throughout the process.

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  1. Philip Kavanaugh:

    Coming off 2-3 mgms daily lorazepam. Morning anxiety gradually dissipating over 4-6 hours. Deceased appetite, mild digestive disruption. Stopped 3 days ago. Looking for guidance with or without insurance.

    • Philip, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be fine in 2-4 weeks. However, if not, if you end up in trouble you need to contact us before a crisis. The typical emergency response to any crisis will be to put you back onto benzos, at which time the withdrawals will stop. The trouble is that cycle of crisis -> back onto benzos, tends to get imprinted into the psyche of the person. One gets trapped into the endless cycle of withdrawal -> rescue, repeat. That’s the wrong way to go about getting real help. Contact us for real help ending the cycle of benzo dependency.

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