What Are Benzodiazepines and Why Do Doctors Prescribe Them?
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a family of sedative drugs that work by slowing down brain activity and depressing the central nervous system. Doctors prescribe benzos to treat anxiety, panic, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders.
Benzos increase the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a chemical that slows the brain down. Increased GABA activity causes you to feel drowsy and calm. This makes benzos an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and insomnia.
There are several different kinds of benzodiazepines, including:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Estazolam (Prosom)
The main difference between types of benzos is how quickly you feel their effects and how long the effects last.
With an ultra-short acting drug like Alprazolam, you may feel the effects half an hour after using the drug. The effects last around one and half hours. For a long-acting drug like Valium, it takes around one to two hours to notice the effects, but they usually last around six hours.