benzodiazepine

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benzodiazepine

(bĕn'zōdīăz`əpēn'), any of a class of drugs prescribed for their tranquilizing, antianxiety, sedative, and muscle-relaxing effects. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal. Introduced in the early 1960s with chlordiazepoxide (Librium), benzodiazepines were heralded as a safer alternative to barbituratesbarbiturate
, any one of a group of drugs that act as depressants on the central nervous system. High doses depress both nerve and muscle activity and inhibit oxygen consumption in the tissues. In low doses barbiturates act as sedatives, i.e.
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 and meprobamate because they were relatively non–habit forming and were less lethal in overdose.

There has been considerable debate over their side effects, addictiveness, and abuse, beginning with negative media attention given to diazepam (Valium) in the late 1960s and continuing with debate over triazolam (Halcion), which culminated in its withdrawal from the market in Britain and several other countries. All benzodiazepines appear to have amnesic side effects. Triazolam has been associated with depression, increased daytime anxiety in poor sleepers, and some cases of psychosis. Physical dependence on benzodiazepines is seen predominantly in patients who have taken the medications over long periods. Upon withdrawal the original symptoms often recur, and patients may experience anxiety, insomnia, perceptual changes, hallucinations, and seizures. These symptoms can be lessened by slowly tapering off the dose.

Abuse of benzodiazepines occurs most often in young white males who also abuse other substances. In this group benzodiazepines, especially diazepam and alprazolam (Xanax), are used, sometimes nasally, to ameliorate the unwanted effects of street drugs, such as cocaine. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), a prescription benzodiazepine sedative not approved in the United States, is increasingly being abused by teen-agers in some areas of the country. While many doctors feel benzodiazepines are safe and effective, especially for short-term relief of anxiety and insomnia, others feel that they mask underlying problems and invite dependence. There are 12 benzodiazepines now on the market, including clonazepam (Clonopin) and temazepam (Restoril).

See also antianxiety drugantianxiety drug,
drug administered for the relief of anxiety. Although their action is not fully understood, most antianxiety medications appear to affect the action of neurotransmitters in the brain (see serotonin and norepinephrine).
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.

benzodiazepine

[‚ben·zō‚dī′az·ə‚pēn]
(medicine)
A group of tranquilizers that are used to combat anxiety and convulsions.
References in periodicals archive ?
Prescribing rates varied widely by state: twofold for opioids, fourfold for stimulants, and nearly twofold for benzodiazepines.
They conclude that their findings are of major importance for public health, especially considering the prevalence and chronicity of benzodiazepine use in elderly populations and the high and increasing incidence of dementia in developed countries.
The EMPOWER (Eliminating Medications through Patient Ownership of End Results) trial has tackled the issue of inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines using a patient-centred approach.
The Quebec database permitted identification of all subjects with prescriptions for benzodiazepines during 2000-2009, a period 5-10 years prior to diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
When opioids or benzodiazepines were the only drug classes in question, alcohol was involved in 26,446 (13.
There are numerous studies that compare the different benzodiazepines as abortive treatment in children, but the formulation of the medications used differs even when similar routes are used.
The researchers measured whether people with pneumonia were more likely than controls to have taken opioids or benzodiazepines before the start of their illness and found that among pneumonia cases, 13.
It has been suggested that benzodiazepine use be reserved for treatment-resistant patients, [15,21] but it appears that actual clinical practice sees the use of benzodiazepines far more routinely and in various ways.
The researchers used single-nerve-cell-recording techniques to show that within a GABA-secreting nerve-cell cluster called the thalamic reticular nucleus, DBI has the same inhibition-boosting effect on benzodiazepine-responsive GABA receptors as do benzodiazepines.
Our data add to the accumulating evidence that use of benzodiazepines is associated with increased risk of dementia, which, given the high and often chronic consumption of these drugs in many countries would constitute a substantial public health concern.
A new study, however, found that the risk of developing dementia increased by 50 percent for subjects who consumed benzodiazepines during the follow-up period, compared with those who had never used these molecules.
Unlike benzodiazepines, the new hypnotic drugs do not have a muscle relaxant effect since they do not bind to the omega2 receptor subtype.