Fast facts on benzodiazepines
- Benzodiazepines are used for a range of health issues, including anxiety, sleep disorders, and alcohol withdrawal.
- They work by triggering a tranquillizing chemical in the brain.
- Side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, poor co-ordination, and feelings of depression.
- Mixing alcohol with benzodiazepines can be fatal.
- Hospital admissions for benzodiazepine misuse have tripled since 1998.
Benzodiazepines can be used to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia.
Benzodiazepines are effective for treating a range of psychological and neurological disorders, due to its effects on the neurons that trigger stress and anxiety reactions.
These disorders include:
Insomnia: Benzodiazepines are normally only used as a short-term treatment for severe insomnia, as they can lead to dependence.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD):Benzodiazepines are often used in the treatment of GAD. The United Kingdom (U.K.) National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence(NICE) recommends taking benzodiazepines to treat short-term GAD treatment for no longer than 1 month.
Seizures: Benzodiazepines are powerful anticonvulsants and highly effective at preventing prolonged epileptic seizures.
Alcohol withdrawal: The most common benzodiazepine prescribed for alcohol withdrawal is chlodiazepoxide, followed by diazepam. The drugs help people with alcohol dependence by removing toxins from their system and reducing the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Panic attacks: Because of their fast-acting anti-anxiety effects, benzodiazepines are very effective at treating anxiety associated with panic disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that many different study trials support their use for initial treatment.
However, NICE advises that long-term use of benzodiazepines is not recommended for the treatment of panic disorder.