Misuse Of Benzodiazepine Drugs

Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 17, 2009 -- When it comes to drugs that can be used successfully as treatment for anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal as well as a premedication for medical or dental procedures, benzodiazepines are considered as the best medication. Benzodiazepines are drugs known to possess sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic properties, which is why many medical practices and treatments requires the use of these drugs. Benzodiazepines are generally safe and effective for short term use, although cognitive impairments and paradoxical effects such as aggression or behavioral disinhibition, occasionally occur. The main drawback of benzodiazepines, however, is its misuse, particularly for recreational purposes.

Benzodiazepine Drug Misuse

The level of benzodiazepine misuse is as high as the level of misuse of other common drugs. When used recreationally, benzodiazepines are usually administered orally but sometimes they are taken intranasally or intravenously. According to teen treatment center patients, recreational abuse produces effects similar to alcohol intoxication and in tests in primates benzodiazepines also produce effects similar to barbiturates. Triazolam, alprazolam, diazepam and lorazepam have a higher abuse potential than other benzodiazepines such as oxazepam or chlordiazepoxide.

Reasons of misuse

Benzodiazepines have demonstrated reward seeking behaviour in animal studies. According to teen treatment center patients, they are motivated to misuse benzodiazepines to achieve a sedative-hypnotic high which often produces effects including feeling energetic, relaxed, drunken, talkative, pleasure and euphoria. In India up to 50-60% of heroin addicts abuse benzodiazepines and 20% of injecting substance misusers also inject benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines can be used to counter the effects of other drugs such as to "come down" from stimulants or enhance the effects of other CNS depressant substances such as alcohol or heroin.

Legal status

In the United States, benzodiazepines are Schedule IV drugs under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, even when not on the market (such as nitrazepam and bromazepam). Flunitrazepam is subject to more stringent regulations in certain states and temazepam prescriptions require specially coded pads in certain states. In Canada, all benzodiazepines are in Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In the United Kingdom, the benzodiazepines are Schedule IV controlled drugs, except for flunitrazepam, temazepam and midazolam, which are Schedule III controlled drugs and carry stronger penalties for possession and trafficking.

Aside from the countries stated above, benzodiazepines, according to teen treatment center specialists, are internationally categorized as Schedule IV controlled drugs, apart from flunitrazepam which is a Schedule III drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 16, 2009 at 10:17 pm
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