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Drug Information > Benzodiazepines

Drug Appearance:

Pills of varying colors and shapes

Signs of Use:

Longer periods of rest or sleep, dizziness, cold and clammy skin.
Slurred speech, dilated pupils, disorientation, drunken behavior without odor of alcohol

Dangers:

Shallow respiration, cold and clammy skin, weak and rapid pulse, coma, possible death

Common Benzodiazepines:

Proprietary (Trade) Name Substance DEA Schedule*
Restoril Temazepam IV
Xanax Alprazolam IV
Ativan Lorazepam II
Librium Chlordiazepoxide IV
Valium Diazepam IV
Klonopin Clonazepam IV

Further Information

The benzodiazepine family of depressants is used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. In general, benzodiazepines act as hypnotics in high doses, anxiolytics in moderate doses, and sedatives in low doses. Of the drugs marketed in the United States that affect central nervous system function, benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed medications. Fifteen members of this group are presently marketed in the United States, and about 20 additional benzodiazepines are marketed in other countries.

Short-acting benzodiazepines are generally used for patients with sleep-onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) without daytime anxiety. Shorter-acting benzodiazepines used to manage insomnia include estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion). Midazolam (Versed), a short-acting benzodiazepine, is utilized for sedation, anxiety, and amnesia in critical care settings and prior to anesthesia. It is available in the United States as an injectable preparation and as a syrup (primarily for pediatric patients).

Benzodiazepines with a longer duration of action are utilized to treat insomnia in patients with daytime anxiety. These benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium, halazepam (Paxipam), lorzepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Serax), prazepam (Centrax), and quazepam (Doral). Clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam, and clorazepate are also used as anticonvulsants.

Benzodiazepines are classified in the CSA as depressants. Repeated use of large doses or; in some cases, daily use of therapeutic doses of benzodiazepines is associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams, as well as tolerance and physical dependence. The withdrawal syndrome is similar to that of alcohol and may require hospitalization. Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines is not recommended and tapering-down the dose eliminates many of the unpleasant symptoms.

Detection

Substance: Urine Hair Saliva
Temazepam 1-14 days N/A N/A
Alprazolam 1-14 days N/A N/A
Lorazepam 1-14 days N/A N/A
Chlordiazepoxide 1-14 days N/A N/A
Diazepam 1-14 days N/A N/A
Clonazepam 1-14 days N/A N/A

    *Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I and II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacture among other restrictions. Schedule I drugs are available for research only and have no approved medical use. Schedule II drugs are available only through prescription, cannot have refills and require a form for ordering. Schedule III and IV drugs are available with prescription, may have 5 refills in 6 months and may be ordered orally. Most Schedule V drugs are available over the counter.