Benzodiazepines Category: Depressants
Also called: benzos, sleepers, moggies, roofies, downers, eggs, rugby balls, D5s, D10s, roch, Xan, Street tablets, Xanax sticks
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a group of prescription drugs used to treat anxiety and depression.
There are many different types of benzos. They range from short, medium and long-lasting
They are prescribed by doctors for a short period (2-4 weeks) to treat anxiety and sometimes insomnia. They are a prescription-only medication but are known to be sold illegally from dealers and online markets.
The varities available on the market from dealers can vary in contents and purity. Recently in Ireland, we have found 'fake' or 'new' benzodiazepines to contain new substances and mixtures of substances increasing the risks for people.
They come as a tablet, capsule, injection or suppository (tablets inserted into the bottom). They can also come as ‘sticks’. They come in a wide variety of colours and in different doses.
Drugs can effect each person differently. The effects will depend on personal factors such as your physical and mental health as well as the dose and potency of a substance. You could react differently depending on what type of benzodiazepine you have taken or if the prpduct contains other substances without you knowing.
Below are common effects and risks.
- They can begin to affect you after 10 to 15 minutes and last up to a number of hours
- Sedation – they depress your nervous system and slow your body down. This means that they slow down thinking, heart rate and breathing
- They can relieve stress, anxiety and tension, and can make you more calm and relaxed and also help with sleep problems
- They can slow down your thoughts. You can become drowsy, forgetful and confused which could lead to accidents.
- Some people may experience blackouts where they forget periods of time
- They can cause blurred vision and slurred speech
- Some people may feel intense happiness which is called euphoria
- Short-term memory loss.
- They may lose their effect as ‘sleeping pills’ and no longer control anxiety after four months of regular use
- Some people might feel the return of anxiety if they are self-medicating
- People may have vivid dreams, and irritability and feel groggy
- Using medication that is not prescribed for you can always carry risks.
- Benzodiazepines can cause dependency issues for people.
- It is very dangerous if you suddenly stop using benzodiazepines. If you use benzodiazepines regularly, you should reduce your use slowly and you should have medical supervision
- Mixing benzodiazepines with other downers like alcohol or heroin increases your risk of fatal overdose. Signs of an overdose include confusion, impaired coordination, such as difficulty walking in a straight line, slowed reflexes and coma.
- Some people may crush tablets, so that they can be injected which increases the risks. Injecting tablets can cause septicaemia (blood poisoning), abscesses, thrombosis (clots in the veins or arteries), gangrene, loss of limbs and even death. Sharing injecting equiptment also increases the risks.
- Using drugs to ‘come down’ off other drugs can be risky
- You can't be sure of the contents of tablets accessed without a prescription. New more potent substances appearing can increase the risk of overdose.
If you use benzos during pregnancy, there is a higher risk of your baby being born with a cleft palate (an abnormality of the lip or mouth). Using high doses before you deliver can seriously affect your baby’s breathing at birth and may kill them. Your baby may have withdrawal for up to 2-4 weeks after delivery and may find it difficult to suck. Your baby may be at greater risk of cot death.
Tolerance to benzodiazepines can develop quickly. This can lead to people using more. This increases the risk of dependency and overdose.
It can be dangerous to suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be dangerous, especially if you have been using frequently or high doses. Symptoms can include anxiety, confusion and serious convulsions (‘benzo fits’). These can be dangerous and you may need medical help.
It is important to get medical support if you want to reduce or stop use. This could be provided in the community or through a residential facility.
How long does it stay in your system?
Benzodiazepines will show up in a urine test for 2-28 days. (The length of time depends on the test used, the amount you take, if you have other medical conditions and your own metabolism. Please use this figure as a guide only.)
New or 'fake' Benzodiazepines
- New benzos are usually bought from a dealer or online without a prescription. They can appear in 'fake' medication without a person knowing.
- New benzos can be newly developed substances that are often more risky, or benzos that were developed many years ago but not used medically.
- While they are 'fake', they can come in a packet that looks genuine. You could be sold a newer more potent benzodiazepine without knowing.
Learn more about the current risks here
- Find a support service here
- Contact the HSE Helpline Monday – Friday 9:30 – 5:30 on freephone 1800 459 459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Signs and symptoms of problematic use
- Overdose awareness
- National Community Detoxification Guidelines