Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are tranquilisers. Tranquilisers come in two main forms: ‘major’ – which are non-addictive anti psychotics and ‘minor’ – addictive relaxants that are easy to misuse and abuse. Benzodiazepines fall into the latter category. They are used to induce periods of calmness, relaxation, daytime anxiety, and to aid an easier sleep. They are the most commonly used type of minor tranquiliser, others include: diazepam, temazepam and phenazepam – the only one not prescribed by doctors in this country. The effect of tranquilisers include: a noticeable relief of tension from anxiety, help to sleep and sedation. Often people get very dependent on their use,

and going without tends to induce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including nausea & vomiting, headaches, a lack of concentration, panic attack, and depression. They are prescription only drugs, which can only legally be obtained by an appointment with a GP. They can come in a variety of forms, including: tablets, capsules, injections or suppositories – all of which come in a wide range of colours. In the ‘rave’ scene, like other tranquilisers, benzodiazepines are used as ‘chill out’ drugs. They are consumed to help people come down off other drugs, for example: cocaine, speed, ecstasy and acid, usually after a big night out. Because they are highly addictive however, there are often concerns about prescribing them. But medical uses for them include: helping in treating withdrawal from alcohol and controlling and suppressing epileptic fits. Too much however, cause short term memory loss, and make individuals sleepy and forgetful. Frequent users of tranquilisers find that after a period of time, their usual dosage doesn’t work. Consequentially their tolerance increases. They were only really created for short term use, although many people have become dependent on them, and used them for a number of years. The deaths relating to tranquilisers have more frequently been overdoses, however a number have been when it was combined with alcohol. Benzodiazepines as a whole, are Prescription Only drugs, under the Medicines Act. They are a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but can only be prescribed legally by a pharmacist with a doctor’s prescription. It makes possession without a prescription illegal, and possession means a sentence of up to two years, whilst selling can be punishable by a prison sentence of up to fourteen years and/or an unlimited fine.