Anti-anxiety drugs are also known as tranquilizers or sedatives and they're very powerful central nervous system depressants. This type of medication is prescribed to patients for the relief of anxiety and tension and they work by slowing down the central nervous system. They widely prescribe these medications for treating anxiety because they're so effective but they're also often misused.
Anti-anxiety medications are also prescribed as sleeping pills and muscle relaxants because they produce a calming and relaxing effect. Benzodiazepines are the most common class of anti-anxiety drugs and medications in this category include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan.
- Xanax is the brand name for Alprazolam
- Klonopin is the brand name for Clonazepam
- Valium is the brand name for Diazepam
- Ativan is the brand name for Lorazepam
These medications work very fast, usually within 30 minutes patients experience relief from symptoms. Because benzodiazepines work so quickly, they're very effective when a person takes them during a panic attack or any other episode of anxiety. Even though anti-anxiety medications effectively relieve symptoms temporarily, they also have their drawbacks because like any other medication, there are possible side effects that may occur.
Side effects associated with anti-anxiety medications may include:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
Even when a person takes low doses of benzodiazepines, side effects may be experienced and the higher the dose, the more intense side effects could become. This could be serious because side effects might cause problems with work, school, driving and interfere with other everyday normal activities.
When benzodiazepines are taken for an extended period of time, over-sedation can occur because they metabolize slowly and the medication can build up in the body. When a person is over-sedated, they may appear as though they're inebriated and this could possibly even lead to a medication hangover the following day.
Benzodiazepines are also abused drugs, most commonly among adolescents and young adults and they're referred to on the streets among users as benzos and downers. Benzodiazepines are abused orally or users crush them first and then snort the powder to get high. These drugs affect the mind and body when they're abused causing the following effects:
- Memory loss
- Vivid or disturbing dreams
Benzodiazepines Overdose Symptoms
- Shallow breathing
- Clammy skin
- Dilated pupils
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Possible death
Drug users obtain benzodiazepines in many ways which include legal prescriptions, doctor shopping, forging prescriptions, and purchasing them illicitly. The most frequently encountered benzodiazepines on the illicit market are Alprazolam and Diazepam according to the DEA. Benzodiazepines are classified as a schedule IV controlled substance and are commonly abused.