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What is Benzodiazepine?

Updated on February 23, 2015
Benzodiazepine comes in many varieties including Rohypnol, Paxal, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and Valium.
Benzodiazepine comes in many varieties including Rohypnol, Paxal, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and Valium. | Source

Introduction

Benzodiazepine and its derivatives are psychoactive drugs that are used to treat a number of physiological and psychological conditions. Common brand names for benzodiazepine drugs and its derivatives include Rohypnol, Paxal, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and Valium. Like many drugs, especially psychoactive ones, benzodiazepines can be used legitimately to treat a variety of conditions or illegally for recreational drug use.

In this article we look at the physical and mental effects of benzodiazepine, the conditions that they can treat and their potential for misuse. We'll explore:

  • Effects of benzodiazepine
  • Conditions treated with benzodiazepine
  • Illegal, recreational use


Effects of benzodiazepine

Benzodiazepine can have several therapeutic and relaxing effects on a patient including:

  • Hypnotic (sleep-inducing) and sedative effects - Helping people to relax and sleep.
  • Anxiolytic effects - Dealing with short-term and acute anxiety.
  • Anticonvulsant effects - Treating seizures, tremors and fits.
  • Muscle relaxant effects - Assisting patients with bodily relaxation.

Benzodiazepines and related drugs are normally safe and effective if used in the short-term. Prolonged use of these drugs can lead to dependency and addiction.

Used properly, these drugs can have a great beneficial impact
Used properly, these drugs can have a great beneficial impact | Source

Conditions treated with benzodiazepine

Benzodiazepine and its derivatives are sometimes prescribed to treat the following conditions:

  • Anxiety and panic disorders - The drug is highly effective at dealing with anxiety problems, especially short-term or acute anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Epileptic seizures - Due to its anticonvulsant properties, it can be used to efficiently treat epilepsy and other conditions that cause fits, tremors and seizures in patients.
  • Insomnia - Benzodiazepine can be prescribed for insomnia but should not be taken for longer than two to four weeks due to the likelihood of developing a dependency on the drug.
  • Alcohol withdrawal - It can significantly reduce the many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal for recovering addicts although care must be taken to ensure that they do not become dependent on the drug.

Benzodiazepine can be used to successfully treat a variety of conditions
Benzodiazepine can be used to successfully treat a variety of conditions | Source

Illegal, recreational use

Benzodiazepines are one of the main types of prescription drugs that are commonly taken by recreational drug users. Addicts may sporadically binge on benzodiazepine by taking large amounts or may abuse it over longer periods of time. The likelihood of death for drug users that take benzodiazepines alongside other substances (prescription drugs, alcohol or other recreational drugs) is high.

Unfortunately, it is fairly easy to become dependent on the drug
Unfortunately, it is fairly easy to become dependent on the drug | Source

GABA Neurotransmitters, Anxiety, and the Dangers of Benzodiazepines

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In closing

Benzodiazepine and its derivatives are a useful part of a doctor's or pharmacist's treatment options and are especially good at treating short-term, acute conditions. Care must be taken when administering the drug over longer periods to avoid physical or psychological dependency or addiction.

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