Benzodiazepine (pronounced ben-zoh-die-AZ-apeen) or ‘Benzos’ for short- are a group of drugs with depressant effects, commonly prescribed by doctors as medication to relieve stress, anxiety, and assist with problems sleeping or to help with the withdrawal effects of other depressants (opioids in particular).
Being a ‘depressant’ type drug means that it slows down the activity of the CNS (central nervous system) and the electric signals or messages between your brain and body, making your body and mind more relaxed. Benzodiazepines are sometimes used for ‘fun’ or recreational purposes. Sometimes they are used to counter the effects of certain stimulating or psychedelic drugs.
Know Your Body & Mind — ‘Set’
Know Your Environment — ‘Setting’
Know Your Drug — Practice Harm Reduction
Most commonly swallowed but can also be shelved, snorted or injected.
DURATION OF EFFECTS
Duration varies by type of benzo and they all differentiate between the onset, peak and total durations.
Benzodiazepine is the name of the drug group. There are three types of benzos; long, intermediate and short acting. As a general rule, short-acting benzos have stronger withdrawal or ‘come down’ effects and can be more addictive than long-acting ones. Benzodiazepines are usually known by their brand name ie. Xanax® or Valium® but can sometimes be known by their chemical name.
|diazepam||Long||Valium® or Antenex®|
|alprazolam||Short||Xanax® or Kalma®|
|temazepam||Short||Temaze® or Normison®|
|oxazepam||Short||Serax® or Serapax®|
Half life: Benzos can stay active for a long period of time (24 hrs +) depending on the type.
Roadside Police: Benzodiazepines are not tested for in roadside drug tests. Follow your prescribing doctor’s instructions regarding driving and any driver may be subject to a roadside behavioural impairment test.
Workplace: OHS law gives employers rights to test employees for drug use. This should be contained in workplace policy, it should be reasonable, and a risk assessment should be done to determine whether testing of employees is appropriate.
Urine: 1 hr – 3+ days after Hair: Up to 90 days Blood: 15min – 2 days after
Effects vary from person to person. Check out our table below that has listed the potential physical, psychological and emotional effects.
Taking drugs is never without risk. In an unregulated market it’s impossible to know the purity or dose of any drug. ‘Dose’ depends on the form a drug is in (liquid, powder, pill, crystal) and how you have it (snort, eat, inject).
- Benzo doses differ between types. You can find a lot of useful information online around doses for different types of benzos.
- A single pill generally contains a dose within the effective therapeutic range.
- If unsure what the strength of the tablet is, or to test for possible hypersensitivity or allergies to benzos, it is safer to take half or quarter of a pill to test the effects.
- ‘Maximum safe dose’ is person-specific and dependent on current opioid exposure, as well as on whether the person takes benzos regularly and has a tolerance or is dependent on them.
- Consider carefully before redosing as it is easy to take too much.
Example of standard doses of some common benzos:
(Always research your drugs from a reliable source)
Alprazolam (Xanax®) – 1mg – 10mg daily
Diazepam (Valium®) – 2mg-10mg 3-4x per day
Temazepam (Temaze®)- 7.5mg-30mg daily
Lorazepam (Ativan®)- 2mg-6mg per day
‘Pill Testing’/Drug Checking: Lab-quality testing has been trialled in Australia and is not available as a health service yet but DIY reagent testing is an option.
The pharmaceutical market is regulated and because of this pills are made to a very high standard. When sourcing from a dealer you could encounter counterfeit pills that contain unknown substances at unknown doses with unknown side effects.
Fentanyl overdoses have been linked to counterfeit pharmaceutical pills such as benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium. Marquis, Mecke and Ehrlich reagent kits can test for Fentanyl, as will Fentanyl test stripes. [See photos of testing results here > verbinding.110110]
- Muscle relaxation
- Decreased breathing rate and heartbeat
- Decreased body temperature
- Decreased motor skills and lack of coordination
- Increased risk of falling over due to decreased motor skills
- Slurring of speech or stuttering
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seeing double or blurry eyesight
- Physical dependence
- Tremors (shakiness)
- Hypotension or hypertension (rare)
- Risk of suffocation due to unconsciousness
- Decrease of tension, anxiety, sadness, panic
- Increased confidence
- Feelings of isolation
- Reduced social inhibitions
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Impaired thinking
- Changed (often increased) response to sexual stimuli
- Reckless behaviour
- Use around friends/people you trust and in a safe environment – somewhere you feel comfortable
- Avoid eating prior to taking a benzo or wait at least 30mins after eating.
- Use as per recommended on packaging if available.
- Finely crush the pill so there are no crystals (sparkles can cause little cuts).
- Snort water before and after to avoid damaging the protective lining in your nose
- Use your own clean straw/spoon for snorting to prevent the risk of infection or blood borne virus transmission (‘BBV’ e.g. hepatitis C) via microscopic amounts of blood
- Do not use money – it is covered in bacteria.
- Repeated snorting can damage the membranes of the nose leading to blood noses and possible permanent damage to the septum.
- Switch nostrils regularly and give your nose a break
It is not recommended to use Benzos if you have or are at risk of:
• Liver problems • Sleep apnea syndrome • Severe breathing problems • Myasthenia • Narrow angle glaucoma
SHELVING (dry)/ PLUGGING (wet mix)
- Use lubrication to avoid tearing the skin
- Use a condom or latex/vinyl glove to avoid internal scratches
- Wash your hands before and after using
- Find a discreet and safe place to do it
- Dispose of used condom / glove responsibly.
- Avoid Blood Borne Viruses ‘BBVs’ (eg. Hepatitis C, HIV) by using new & sterile syringes & equipment.
- Use sterile water to mix up.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after, you can also use an alcohol swab to clean your fingertips.
- Alcohol wipes can reduce the risk of skin infections if they are used correctly. For maximum effect, swab once, in one direction on the injection site, and leave to dry naturally.
- Dispose of syringes & equipment responsibly in a yellow disposal bin, all NSPs have bins available.
LONG TERM EFFECTS
Physical dependence. You can build tolerance within a couple of days – Benzo withdrawal can be fatal and should be managed in a hospital setting. Talk to your healthcare practitioner or trusted GP if you are wanting to decrease or stop using.
Possible outcomes. What works for one person may not work for another. We recommend you proceed with caution.
- Opioids and/or other depressants (Alcohol, GHB/GBL, Tramadol, Ketamine) – overdose, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing ultimately resulting in respiratory failure and possible death.
- Stimulants (MDMA,Cocaine etc) – This combo partially counters the effects of the stimulants.This does not mean it makes you sober as both drugs are still active in your system.
- Psychedelics – This combo partially counters the effects of the psychedelic substances.
- Antipsychotics – Can cause excessive sedation, production of saliva and ataxia (impaired body control)
- Antihistamines – possible excess sedation.
Low risk effects
Check out the TripSit drug combinations chart here for info on other combinations.
Call 000 if experiencing adverse effects, feel unwell or concerned in any way
This educational resource has been developed collaboratively by healthcare workers and people who use drugs for their peers and the wider community. The role of Hi-Ground is to provide practical, evidence-based, unbiased information to assist you to make educated choices and to promote harm reduction, community care, and wellbeing.
In an unregulated market it’s impossible to know the purity or dose of any substance. Taking drugs from an unregulated market carries its own risk, and you can educate yourself and practice harm reduction to reduce this risk.
Knowledge is power.
This resource is produced by DanceWize & Hi-Ground