Benzodiazepines are medications prescribed as sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, and to help treat anxiety, epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal. They usually come in pill form. It is illegal to use benzodiazepines not prescribed by a doctor.
Using benzodiazepines can make you feel relaxed, calm and sleepy. A higher dose of benzodiazepines can make you feel drowsy, confused, aggressive, and uncoordinated.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating and shakiness. Other symptoms can include muscle aches and pains, hallucinations, nightmares, fatigue, numbness, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, confusion, rapid mood changes, memory loss, and hyperactivity.
All drug use brings a risk of harm. Talk with your GP about how benzodiazepines may affect you, including potential effects on your driving and other activities.
Mixing drugs is always risky because the effects are hard to predict. Never combine benzodiazepines with alcohol or opiate drugs like heroin, morphine, or methadone; this is very dangerous and can cause death.
Only take benzodiazepines orally as there are fillers and chalk in the pills that can be very harmful if snorted or injected.
Death from benzodiazepine overdose is rare, but more likely when they are used with other drugs, especially other depressants.
Early symptoms of benzodiazepine overdose include: decreased heart and breathing rate, impaired balance and losing control of movement, slurred speech, coma, and respiratory depression (where breathing has slowed to the point that not enough oxygen is reaching the body to keep it alive).
Call 111 if you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms.
You may be experiencing substance use disorder if you are:
If you have been using benzodiazepines a lot, or for a long time, get medical support before cutting down or stopping. Stopping suddenly can result in serious health issues, or death. Your GP or a local addiction specialist can support you though this process.
To help with cutting down, talk to your friends or family about your plan and ask for their support. You can also call Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 for confidential, non-judgmental expert advice.
You can become dependent on benzodiazepines within two weeks. With daily use, your body will adapt and you will quickly need more to achieve the same effect. Talk to your doctor about what to look out for and how to mitigate potential dependence.
Any leftover and unused medication should be returned to a pharmacy so it can be properly disposed of.
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