Approved But Can Be Very Dangerous
|There are a great many legal benzodiazapines used in the world. Lets look at a brief discription of of two of them. Then we'll investigate this class of drugs from expert literature..|
Also Known As Benzos, Maggies, Tranx, Mazzies.
This is a class A drug. Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs developed in the 50s and 60s as safer alternatives to barbiturates. They are known as minor tranquillisers and are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Although safer than barbiturates, they have been over prescribed in the last 30 years and they have become popular as street drugs. The main drugs used are Valium and Temazepam.
They are produced as either tablets or capsules for oral use and they come in different colours depending on their strength. Temazepam is available in a gel filled capsule. Benzodiazepines also come in liquid form, as suppositories and in injectable form.
Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety and promote feelings of relaxation. High doses of injected Temazepam can cause amnesia and uncharacteristic aggression.
Benzodiazepines are comparatively safe in overdose but the risk increases when taken with alcohol. Withdrawal effects are particularly unpleasant and can prove fatal. Long-term use may cause memory problems.
The following was written by experts at the British Firm, BUPA, known world wide for their specialized work in this field.
This group of drugs are also known as tranquillisers and sedatives. The best known are probably diazepam (brand name Valium) and nitrazepam (Mogadon). Benzodiazepines basically fall into two groups - the anxiolytics (for treating anxiety) and the hypnotics (for treating insomnia). Benzodiazepines are useful drugs for treating a number of conditions but, because of their Side effects and the risk of dependency (see below), they are not suitable as routine 'sleeping tablets', nor are they an effective treatment for depression.
* How do benzodiazepines work?
* Before taking a benzodiazepine
How do benzodiazepines work?
Benzodiazepines work by depressing the part of the brain, called the reticular activating system, that regulates how active the brain is. They do this by increasing the action of a substance called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical involved in slowing down the transmission of nerve signals in the brain.
What are they for?
In the past, before the disadvantages were known, doctors prescribed benzodiazepines more widely - to treat, for example, relatively mild forms of anxiety or to help people after bereavement.
Benzodiazepines can also cause a range of side effects, the most common being confusion, stumbling, memory loss, drowsiness, light-headedness, a hangover effect (feeling the effects of the drug the next day), and an increase in aggression. Because of the side effects benzodiazepines can cause, they can impair your ability to drive or operate machinery, even the day after the last dose taken. They can also enhance the effects of alcohol.
Some benzodiazepines used to help with sleep are 'short acting' (e.g. temazepam) and when used to treat insomnia are less likely to cause a hangover effect the next day than the long-acting ones (e.g. nitrazepam). However, the short-acting benzodiazepines are more likely to lead to dependence and withdrawal syndrome. The long-acting anxiolytics, such as diazepam, can be given at night to treat insomnia and anxiety in someone with both, because their effects last into the next day.
Withdrawing from a benzodiazepine
Before taking a benzodiazepine
* a lung or breathing disorder
Your doctor will generally not prescribe benzodiazepines if you have:
* severe breathing problems or acute lung disease
Do not take any other medicines or herbal remedies with a benzodiazepine, including those you have bought without a prescription, before talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
* All drugs that have a tranquillising or sedative
effect on the brain such as alcohol, will increase the effects of benzodiazepines
How to use a benzodiazepine
Your doctor must not prescribe benzodiazepines for longer than three weeks. Otherwise severe withdrawal problems will result. These can be serious enough to cause death!
Benzodiazepines are only available on a doctor's prescription. Many brands of these drugs are not available on the NHS, however, and can only be prescribed in their generic form (ie chlordiazepoxide but not Librium; diazepam but not Valium). For more information about generic and proprietary versions of medicines with identical active ingredients look at our article on explaining medicines. Benzodiazepines come as tablets or capsules and some also come as solutions, rectal preparations and injections. It is important to take a benzodiazepine only in the doses your doctor has prescribed for you and to stop taking it as instructed.
Types of benzodiazepines
Other (non-benzodiazepine) anxiolytics
Beta-blockers - medicine article click here
Meprobamate (Equagesic) - this is a Controlled Drug and rarely used
Other (non-benzodiazepine) hypnotics
Self-help for insomnia and anxiety
There is much you can do to help yourself if you suffer from anxiety and/or insomnia. Relaxation techniques, meditation and yoga can all help you learn to relax and sleep better. These can be self-taught, but it is probably better to start off in a class, which are now widely available in health clubs and sports facilities etc. Certain complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage and reflexology have been shown to help people relax and to relieve anxiety. Other things you can do for yourself include avoiding drinks with caffeine in, such as tea, coffee and cola, particularly in the evening, if you suffer from insomnia.
Other tips for a good night's sleep include:
* Making sure your bedroom is quiet (or wear ear
plugs), well ventilated and not too hot or cold; having a regular bedtime.