What Is Benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines refer to the large class of drugs that are commonly referred to as tranquilizers. These medications are also referred to as sedative-hypnotics, anxiolytics and depressants of the central nervous system.

You are unlikely to come across any medication that is called ‘Benzodiazepine’. These medications are marketed and sold under different brand names as per the following table:

Brand Names of the Benzodiazepine Drugs

  • Quazepam – Doral
  • Ketazolam – Anxon
  • Alprazolam – Xanax
  • Lorazepam – Ativan
  • Estazolam – ProSom
  • Halazepam – Paxipam
  • Ledazepam – Nobrium
  • Flurazepam – Dalmane
  • Prazepam – Centrax
  • Loprazelam – Dormonoct
  • Lormetazepam – Noctamid
  • Clonazepam – Rivotril, Klonopin
  • Diazepam – Pro-Pam, D-Pam, Valium
  • Triazolam – Hypam, Tricam, Halcion
  • Chlordiazepoxide – Nova-Pam, Librium
  • Midazolam – Dormicum, Hypnovel, Versed

What Is Benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines may also be sold by other brand names not mentioned above. Be sure to check with your pharmacist whether the drug you have been prescribed is a benzodiazepine. The less popular benzodiazepines include:

  • Oxazolam
  • Ertizolam
  • Pinazepam
  • Camazepam
  • Brotizolam
  • Clotiazepam
  • Delorazepam
  • Haloxazolam

Whatever its brand name, the effects of the drug on the body are the same. It may in the initial stages be very effective in the treatment of conditions like anxiety, depression and stress. With time the body is likely to develop tolerance.

The patient will in most cases no longer be able to get any relief after taking the usual dosage of benzodiazepines. He or she will be forced to take increasing dosages of the medications and this will create a vicious cycle of tolerance and addiction causing the patient to keep on increasing the dosages of the medication while at the same causing more and serious injury to health. Unless intervention measures are sought, addicted people may take up to as many as 30 tablets in just one day and this is very dangerous.

All the benzodiazepines have five major effects in the body; these are:

  1. AMNESIC – Benzodiazepines have the effect of disrupting the short term and also the long term memory of the user.
  2. MUSCLE RELAXATION – Benzodiazepines have the effect of relaxing the muscles. It is because of this that they are prescribed for treating muscle pain.
  3. ANXIOLYTIC – Benzodiazepines have the effect of reducing anxiety while at the same time producing relaxation. It is for this reason that they are referred to as sedative-hypnotics. They reduce anxiety when taken in low doses and cause sedation when taken in high doses.
  4. HYPNOTIC – Benzodiazepines have the effect of making the user feel sleepy. Because of this they have been used in sexual crimes and other forms of criminal activity. They can be slipped into drinks. Some benzodiazepines are very hard to taste so the victim will take the drinks and will only notice the presence of the drug once its effects are felt.
  5. ANTI-SEIZURE – Benzodiazepines have the effect of reducing incidences of seizures and convulsions. What is strange is that they may cause relief to these conditions at their initial stages of administration. The patient will however experience symptoms that are very similar to what the medications are prescribed to treat (i.e. seizures) once he or she stops taking the medication.

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