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What are Benzodiazepines?

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

Benzodiazepines are a group of depressant drugs. Many of these drugs are common in the UK. Drugs such as diazepam are prescribed as medicines in the UK. The recreational use of benzodiazepines in the UK is a growing problem.

The desired effect when prescribed

Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and severe insomnia. They depress the nervous system and slow the brain and body down. They can also be used for panic disorders and alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepine drugs increase the effects of GABA on your brain and body. This means these drugs can: relax your muscles.

Side Effects

  • They start to take effect between 30-90 minutes.

  • They slow down the central nervous system, increasing the risk of overdose.

  • Confusion

  • Disorientation

  • Weakness

  • Impaired concentration

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Memory loss

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • They are highly addictive.

Street Names/Nicknames

Scoobies, V's, Yellows, Blues, Benzos, Dead flower powers, Downers, Foofoo, Sleep away, Howards, Tranks, old joes, drunk pills, ludes.

Types of Benzodiazepines

  • Diazepam (Valium)

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

  • Lorazepam

  • Temazepam

  • Flunitrazepam (rohypnol)

  • Phenazepam

  • Nitrazepam

  • Oxazepam

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

  • Lorprazolam

How are they used?

They are usually taken in pill or capsule form. They are sometimes injected.

The Law

A pharmacist can legally supply benzodiazepines. A doctor will prescribe them, and they can only be legally used by the person who received the prescription.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) is a class C controlled substance.

Possession - up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Supply - up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Driving under the influence of benzodiazepines could result in a large fine and a driving ban.

In 2019/20, approximately 5.3 million benzodiazepine tablets were seized by Police Scotland, compared with 2.1 million tablets seized in 2018/19.

Harm Reduction

  • Take them in a safe environment with people you know.

  • Don't try to stop cold turkey. Always reduce their use gradually with the supervision of a medical professional. Try not to use them to relax/come down from taking other substances such as cocaine and ecstasy.

Dosage/strength can vary massively if non-prescribed pills, so be aware of this and start with a small test dose.

Useful Links

South Lanarkshire Council -

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