Benzodiazepines were introduced in the 1950’s and have completely replaced older sedatives/hypnotic agents.
All benzodiazepines have five primary effects:
Hypnotic– Induce sleep
Anxiolytic– Reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
Anti-seizure– Reduce the probability of having seizures and convulsions
Muscle relaxant– Reduces muscle tension and associated pain
Short acting agents for sleep are: ProSom, Dalmane, Restoril, Halcion, and Versed
Long acting daytime agents are: Xanax, Librium, Tranxene, Valium, Paxipam, Ativan, Serax, Centrax, Doral, and Klonopin
Benzodiazepines are classified as central nervous system depressants and repeated use of large doses may cause
amnesia, hostility, irritability, vivid or disturbing dreams, and physical dependence.
Xanax and Valium are the two most commonly abused drugs on the street.
Pohypnol is a benzodiazepine not manufactured or legally marketed in the United States, but is smuggled in by traffickers. The street slangs are rophies, roofies, and roach, and is used as “party” drug. The drug is placed in an alcoholic drink of an unsuspecting victim to incapacitate them and prevent resistance to sexual assault. This has been called the “date rape” drug.
Street names: Reds, Rainbows, Yellow Jackets, Ludes, and Roofies
The withdrawal syndrome is similar to alcohol, can be life threatening, and may need hospitalization. Full blown grand mal seizures may occur if stopped abruptly. Time frame for grand mal seizures depends on the half life of the drug but normally is seen 3-10 days after last dose.
Psychological symptoms: anxiety (including panic attacks), depression, insomnia, feelings of unreality/detachment from
self), obsessive negative thoughts, (particularly of a violent and/or sexual nature), rapid mood changes (especially
including outbursts of anger or rage), phobias (especially agoraphobia and fear of insanity), dysphoria (loss of capacity
to enjoy life), depression, impairment of cognitive functioning, suicidal thoughts, nightmares, hallucinations, psychosis,
Physical Symptoms: abnormal sensitivity to sensory stimuli,, muscle tension/pain, joint pain, tinnitus, headaches,
Tremors, blurred vision, itchy skin (including sensations of insects crawling on skin), gastrointestinal discomfort,
electric shock sensations, numbness and pins and needles, especially in extremities, fatigue, weakness in the extremities ,
feelings of inner vibrations, sweating, fluctuations in body temperature, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, “flu
like” symptoms, metallic taste in mouth, nausea, extreme thirst, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, dizziness, vertigo,