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 ?
21,22) Specific combinations of herbs have also been used to treat insomnia such as Valeriana officinalis and Humulus lupus, (23) however, one of these herbs--Passiflora incarnata--may be particularly useful as an alternative to benzodiazepine medication.
Considering the extent to which benzodiazepines are prescribed in the elderly population and the growing incidence of dementia, unwarranted chronic use of benzodiazepines in the elderly should be viewed as a public health issue," Sophie Billioti de Gage said at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Caption: Alcohol was also tied to more than 25% of ED visits for benzodiazepine abuse.
The results support that more studies, that are larger and standardized, are needed to determine superiority of a benzodiazepine.
Based on the existing data, it would appear that combination treatment (pharmacotherapy plus psychotherapy) is the intervention of choice, and that the judicious use of benzodiazepines together with an antidepressant will provide the most rapid initial response.
While Alzheimer's Society is leading the way in calling for an end to the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia, it is also vital that benzodiazepines are not automatically turned to as the alternative.
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.
Then, when the patient is metabolically stable a taper could include phenobarbital or a longer-acting benzodiazepine.
A]-benzodiazepine receptor complex system like benzodiazepines (Breier and Paul 1990; Cloos and Ferreira 2009).
A POLITICIAN has called on the Assembly Government to investigate a rise in the cost of prescribing benzodiazepines.
Ista and associates argue that the SOS measures benzodiazepine withdrawal more sensitively than the WAT-1 and requires less time per observation (i.
First, descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic information for four groups: 1) alcohol- and benzodiazepine-free, 2) alcohol only, 3) benzodiazepines only (subgrouped by half-life) and 4) alcohol plus benzodiazepines (subgrouped by half-life).