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 ?
Although benzodiazepines can help reduce anxiety in patients with anxiety disorders, they have shown less promise in treating other disorders in which anxiety is a common symptom.
She said: "Today's figures show the tragic loss of life of people who have passed away after using multiple types of drugs - including benzodiazepines.
Opioids will include a warning regarding prescribing with benzodiazepines and other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol.
Additionally, due to the unique medical needs and benefit/risk considerations for patients undergoing medication-assisted therapy treatment (MAT) to treat opioid addiction and dependence, the FDA is continuing to examine available evidence regarding the use of benzodiazepines and opioids as part of MAT.
performed two meta-analyses showing that CBT plus taper is effective only in the short-term (3-month period) in reducing benzodiazepine use and insufficient evidence to support the use of motivational interviewing to reduce benzodiazepine use.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and existing labeling warnings regarding combined use caution prescribers about co-prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines to avoid potential serious health outcomes.
The prolonged use of benzodiazepines, even in low dosages, is a risk factor for the development of adverse effects (12,13) which can be described as somnolence, vertigo, tiredness, mental confusion, headache, anxiety, lethargy, ataxia, postural hypotension, retrograde amnesia, accidents, tolerance, addiction (10,11) and increase in the frequency of falls (14,15).
But the programme found a retailer operating under a similar name that is still offering benzodiazepines and other medication.
The efficiency of benzodiazepines depends on the administered dose (usually between 8 and 24 mg Lorazepam a day).
Benzodiazepines are prescribed to older adults primarily to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Objective: To explore the pattern of prescription of benzodiazepines in internal medicine outpatients at a tertiary care hospital.
Despite the well-known risks that they represent for older individuals, prescription use of a class of sedative and anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines is highest in older people.