What are Benzodiazepines?

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Over 50 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are written yearly in the United States. Although intended to treat anxiety and depression, benzodiazepines are commonly abused alongside alcohol and other illicit drugs. To learn more about benzodiazepines, watch the short video below.


Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are prescription medications that are primarily prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. In some cases, they can be used to treat chronic seizures. The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are Valium and Xanax. Others commonly used include Klonopin, Ativan, and Restoril.

Benzodiazepines inhibit the production of neurotransmitters that cause stress or anxiety, allowing the brain to reach a sedated state. Because of this, they are commonly abused.

Benzodiazepine abuse can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, seizures, fluctuations in heart rate, and respiratory depression. Benzodiazepines are most commonly abused in conjunction with other substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs. This significantly increases the risk of overdose and death.

In 2014, Benzodiazepines accounted for 8,000 deaths in the United States.

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