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What are benzodiazepines, and how do they work?

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Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that can treat a range of conditions. Doctors often prescribe them to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. The short-term use of these medications is usually safe and effective, but long-term use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and other adverse effects. There are different types of benzodiazepines, and they have different uses. They include :. Taking too much of a benzodiazepine can be dangerous, and mixing it with alcohol or other substances can be fatal.

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Medically reviewed by C. Fookes, BPharm.

Last updated on Feb 5, Benzodiazepines attach to these receptors and make the nerves in the brain less sensitive to stimulation, which has a calming effect. All benzodiazepines work in a similar way but there are differences in the way individual benzodiazepines act on different GABA-A receptor sub-types. In addition, some benzodiazepines are more potent than others or work for a longer length of time.

The table below summarizes the common benzodiazepines available in the U. When prescribed by a doctor and used for short periods of time, such as the day of surgery or for less What type of drugs are benzodiazepines two weeks to aid sleep, benzodiazepines are safe to take. Problems start to arise when benzodiazepines are taken at higher dosages than recommended, or when they are taken for more than two to four weeks.

Benzodiazepines are potentially addictive and the risk of becoming emotionally and physically dependent on them increases the more you take. In addition, tolerance can develop with their use. This is when the same dose no longer gives the same effect, and a dosage increase is needed to ease symptoms again.

Benzodiazepines should only be taken at the lowest dose for the shortest possible length of time. Drowsiness, sleepiness, or dizziness are the most common side effects reported. This can make it dangerous for people taking benzodiazepines to drive or operate machinery or perform other hazardous tasks.

Alcohol may potentiate these effects.

What are benzodiazepines?

Withdrawal symptoms may occur with abrupt discontinuation — symptoms may include convulsions, cramps, insomnia, sweating, tremors, and vomiting. Some people develop a paradoxical reaction to benzodiazepines — this is the opposite reaction to what you would expect.

They may become agitated or very anxious, What type of drugs are benzodiazepines hallucinations, have difficulty sleeping or exhibit bizarre behavior such as taking off their clothes in public or taking unnecessary risks. For more about benzodiazepines see Benzodiazepines: Overview and Use. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this applies to your personal circumstances.

Benzodiazepines Medically reviewed by C. What are Benzodiazepines? What are benzodiazepines used for? Benzodiazepines may be used to treat: alcohol withdrawal anxiety as a muscle relaxant panic disorder seizures sleep disorders to induce relaxation and cause amnesia prior to surgical operations. What are the differences between benzodiazepines? Common Benzodiazepines Available in the U. The shorter the half-life, the quicker the drug is eliminated. As controlled substances, all benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse, addiction and diversion.

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Drug Name Avg. Rating Reviews Xanax Pro Generic name: alprazolam 8. Subscribe to our newsletters. FDA Safety Alerts. Daily MedNews. Monthly Newsletter.

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What are benzodiazepines?

Select one or more newsletters to continue. NiravamXanaxXanax XR. Xanax Pro Generic name: alprazolam.

Klonopin Pro Generic name: clonazepam. Ativan Pro Generic name: lorazepam. Valium Pro Generic name: diazepam. Librium Pro Generic name: chlordiazepoxide. Restoril Pro Generic name: temazepam.

Xanax XR Pro Generic name: alprazolam. Versed Generic name: midazolam.

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