Benzodiazepines List Overview of Uses, Side Effects, and Risks

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that have profoundly impacted the field of medicine, particularly in the realm of mental health. With their ability to treat anxiety, insomnia, and muscle-related issues, benzodiazepines have become an integral part of modern healthcare.

However, the widespread use of benzodiazepines has sparked controversies, primarily concerning their potential for abuse and overprescription. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were around 12,000 benzodiazepine overdose cases that led to death in 2017.

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Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos”, are a class of psychoactive medications that exert their effects by enhancing the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps regulate brain activity and promote relaxation. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat a range of conditions, including anxiety disorders, panic disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures.

How Do Benzodiazepines Work?

Benzodiazepines work by binding to specific receptors in the brain associated with GABA, thereby increasing the inhibitory effects of GABA. This leads to a decrease in brain activity, resulting in sedative, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), and muscle-relaxant effects. These medications can produce a calming and tranquilizing effect, making them useful for managing anxiety symptoms and other related disorders. However, the effectiveness of “benzos” also opens the door to potential risks.

Types of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are classified into three categories based on their duration of action: short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting.

Short-Acting Benzodiazepines

These medications have a short half-life and are usually used to treat insomnia or panic disorder. Examples of short-acting benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

Intermediate-Acting Benzodiazepines

These medications have a medium half-life, offering more sustained relief. They are usually used to treat generalized anxiety disorders. Examples of intermediate-acting benzodiazepines include:

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)

Long-Acting Benzodiazepines

These medications have a long half-life, which means they stay in the body for a long time. They are usually used to treat conditions requiring extended treatment like alcohol withdrawal or insomnia. Examples include:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

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Due to their potential for misuse, dependence, and other side effects, the use of benzodiazepines should be closely monitored by healthcare professionals. They are typically prescribed for short-term use and as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include therapy and lifestyle modifications.

List of Benzodiazepines in the Market

  • Adinazolam (Deracyn)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Bentazepam (Thiadipona)
  • Bretazenil
  • Bromazepam (Lexotanil)
  • Bromazolam
  • Brotizolam (Noctilan)
  • Camazepam (Paxor)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Cinazepam (Levana)
  • Cinolazepam (Gerodorm)
  • Clobazam (Frisium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Clonazolam
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Clotiazepam (Clozan)
  • Cloxazolam (Sepazon)
  • Delorazepam (Dadumir)
  • Deschloroetizolam
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Diclazepam
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Ethyl carfluzepate
  • Etizolam (Etilaam)
  • Ethyl loflazepate (Victan)
  • Flualprazolam
  • Flubromazepam
  • Flubromazolam
  • Fluclotizolam
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
  • Flunitrazolam
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Flutazolam (Coreminal)
  • Flutemazepam
  • Flutoprazepam (Restas)
  • Halazepam (Paxipam)
  • Ketazolam (Anxon)
  • Loprazolam (Dormonoct)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Lormetazepam (Loramet)
  • Meclonazepam
  • Medazepam (Ansilan)
  • Metizolam
  • Mexazolam (Melex)
  • Midazolam (Hypnovel)
  • Nifoxipam
  • Nimetazepam (Erimin)
  • Nitemazepam
  • Nitrazepam (Pacisyn)
  • Nitrazolam
  • Nordiazepam (Madar)
  • Norflurazepam
  • Oxazepam (Seresta)
  • Phenazepam (Phenazepam)
  • Pinazepam (Domar)
  • Prazepam (Lysanxia)
  • Premazepam
  • Pyrazolam
  • Quazepam (Doral)
  • Rilmazafone (Rhythmy)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Tetrazepam (Myolastan)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

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What are controlled substances?

Controlled substances are drugs or substances that are regulated by the government due to their potential for abuse, addiction, and negative health effects. These substances are categorized and classified under specific schedules based on their level of potential harm and medical utility. The purpose of controlling these substances is to manage their distribution, use, and availability to ensure public safety and health.

The five schedules are:

  • Schedule I: Substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule II: Substances with a high potential for abuse, but with accepted medical use.
  • Schedule III: Substances with a moderate potential for abuse, with accepted medical use.
  • Schedule IV: Substances with a low potential for abuse, with accepted medical use.

Schedule V: Substances with a very low potential for abuse, with accepted medical use.

Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

As a Schedule IV controlled substance, Benzodiazepines are generally safe when used as prescribed. However, they can be addictive, and long-term use can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

The effects of benzodiazepines are undeniably beneficial, providing rapid relief to those in distress. However, their use is not without risks. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, meaning they slow down brain activity. Here are some of the side effects of benzodiazepines:

icon drowsiness or sedation


icon showing dizziness


icon showing confusion


icon problems with memory

Memory problems

icon showing slurred speech

Slurred speech

icon showing constipation


icon dry mouth

Dry mouth

icon depicting headache


icon depicting tiredness


icon impaired coordination

Reduced coordination

icon for increased risk of falls

Increased risk of falls

Benzodiazepine Overdose

Using benzodiazepines safely involves adhering to recommended dosage guidelines and treatment durations to reduce the risk of overdose or developing physical dependence. The symptoms of a benzodiazepine overdose can vary depending on the amount of the drug taken, the person’s individual tolerance, and whether any other drugs or alcohol were taken.

Some of the most common benzodiazepine overdose symptoms include:

  • Extreme drowsiness or unconsciousness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Ataxia (loss of coordination)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Are benzodiazepines addictive?

Yes, benzodiazepines are addictive. They can cause physical and psychological dependence, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly. The risk of addiction to benzodiazepines increases with the length of time you take the drug and the dose you take. It is also higher if you have a history of addiction to other drugs or alcohol.

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Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be uncomfortable and sometimes even severe, depending on factors such as the specific benzodiazepine used, the duration of use, the dosage, and the individual’s sensitivity to withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary widely and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened sensitivity
  • Seizures

Tapering methods, guided by healthcare professionals, can help individuals gradually reduce their dosage and manage withdrawal symptoms. Protracted withdrawal, characterized by prolonged and challenging symptoms, can occur and requires careful monitoring and support.

How long do benzodiazepines stay in your system?

In general, it takes 5-7 half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from your system. So, for a short-acting benzodiazepine, it would take 5-7 days for the drug to be completely eliminated from your system. For an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine, it would take 10-14 days, and for a long-acting benzodiazepine, it would take 20-30 days.

However, it is important to note that these are just estimates. The actual amount of time that benzodiazepines stay in your system can vary from person to person.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine dependence is essential for preventing long-term complications.

If you or someone you know is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, there is help available. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. There are also many support groups available, such as Nar-Anon and SMART Recovery.

Our Scottsdale Detox Center offers a personalized treatment plan and detox program tailored to your needs. By choosing detox as your first step, you’re providing yourself with the best possible chance for a successful and sustainable recovery. Take the courageous step toward a brighter future and contact us today.

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