Benzodiazepines (pronounced ben-zoh-die-az-a-pins) are depressant drugs.

This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body. They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin.

Benzodiazepines, also known as “minor tranquillisers”, are most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve stress and anxiety and to help people sleep.

Some people use benzodiazepines illegally to become intoxicated or to “come down” from the effects of stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

Other names

Some common chemical and brand names

Benzodiazepines are known by their chemical (generic) names or their brand names. In each case, these are exactly the same drug, usually made by different companies. Some common benzodiazepines include:

Generic name Brand name
diazepam Ducene® and Valium®
oxazepam Alepam®, Murelax® and Serepax®
nitrazepam Alodorm® and Mogadon®
temazepam Euhypnos® and Normison®

Slang names

“Benzos”, “tranx”, “sleepers”, “downers”, “pills”, “serras” (Serepax®), “moggies” (Mogadon®), “normies” (Normison®)

What do benzodiazepines look like?

Benzodiazepines usually come in the form of tablets and capsules, in a range of colours and designs. They are generally stamped with their name and milligram quantity.

How are they used?

Benzodiazepines are usually swallowed. Some people also inject them; however this method carries significant risk of harms such as collapsed veins, damage to organs, stroke and even death.

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