Benzodiazepines (or 'benzos') are a group of synthetic chemicals that act as depressants on the central nervous system. They act as, and are sub divided into, anxiolytics, hypnotics, sedatives and anti-convulsants. They also work as muscle-relaxants. Many different benzos exist, the most commonly prescribed ones being Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax), Lorezepam and Temazepam. Other benzodiazepines also include Oxazepam, Midazolam and Etizolam.
These drugs - once known as minor tranquillizers - generally make the user feel calm and sleepy; their effect is enhanced when combined with alcohol or any depressant. They are regarded as a highly effective short term medication; however, many patients who were originally prescribed stronger sedatives were transferred to benzos and effectively left on them for decades. The current ‘anti- Benzo’ orientation of many PCT’s and younger doctors has caused genuine distress and hardship for this ageing population whose long term usage reached the point where cessation may be more problematic than maintenance. Users can also develop tolerance to their effects, and dependent users can go on to take enormous daily doses. Withdrawal then becomes a dangerous process which can lead to fits, convulsions, prolonged dysphoria and depression, and changes in dose regimes should carried out only under competent medical supervision.