in Glossary

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“Benzodiazepine” is a class of medications that are used primarily as anti-anxiety, anti-panic, and sleeping agents that are commonly referred to as tranquilizers. Common benzodiazepines are Valium™, Xanax™, and Klonopin™.

A slang term for benzodiazepine is “benzos”. Benzos are a class of psychoactive drugs with varying hypnotic, sedative, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic properties. The effect is to slow down the central nervous system.

Benzodiazepines are useful in treating anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, and muscle spasms, as well as alcohol withdrawal. They can also be used before certain medical procedures such as endoscopies or dental work where tension and anxiety are present, and prior to some unpleasant medical procedures in order to induce sedation and amnesia for the procedure. Another use is to counteract anxiety-related symptoms upon initial use of SSRIs and other antidepressants, or as an adjunctive treatment. Recreational stimulant users often use benzodiazepines as a means of “coming down”. Benzodiazepines are also used to treat the panic that can be caused by hallucinogen intoxication.

The long-term use of benzodiazapines can cause physical dependence. The use of benzodiazepines should therefore commence only after medical consultation and benzodiazepines should be prescribed the smallest dosage possible to provide an acceptable level of symptom relief.

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