What are Benzodiazepines:
Benzodiazepines are any of a family of minor tranquilisers that act against anxiety and convulsions and produce sedation and muscle relaxation. They are only prescribed by a medical practitioner to help during a particularly severe period of anxiety.
What are Z-drugs:
Z-drugs are a group of non-benzodiazepine drugs with similar effects to benzodiazepines drugs. They are named z-drugs as most of the drug names start with the letter "Z". The side effects of this medication may be less severe than benzodiazepine drugs.
How are these drugs taken:
These medications are usually taken in tablet or capsule format.
Research by the Blanchardstown Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (BLDATF) reveal that there is a range of different types of benzo’s and z-drugs available in the Dublin 15 community:
- Z-drugs: zopiclone, zolpidem and zimovane.
- Benzodiazepines: diazepam (valium, D5’s, D10’s), flurazepam (dalmane), nitrazepam (mogadon), alprazolam (xanax, xanax bars), triozolam (Up John’s).
Treated drug users in Dublin 15 reported that the main types of these drugs used were diazepam, xanax and zimovane.
Why benzodiazepines and z-drugs are used:
These drugs make the user feel calmer, relax the muscles and can cause drowsiness and lethargy.
Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines and z-drugs for short periods to ease symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. These drugs work well in the short term but they have the potential to become addictive if used for longer than 4-weeks.
The internet was reported to account for the increase in the availability of benzodiazepines and z-drugs. Tablets were imported from a range of countries, including Spain, China, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria.
They are sometimes used to ease the comedown from stimulant drugs (‘uppers’) such as ecstasy, cocaine and speed or with other ‘downer’ drugs such as alcohol and heroin.
Everyone’s on them xanax, D5s, D10s [benzodiazepines]...People do be taking them after their mad weekends to relax them.
- Participant 176, Young personTreated drug user, DATMS report 2016
Effects of using benzodiazepines and z-drugs:
Prolonged use of these drugs can result in addiction. It is important to consult your doctor before stopping this medication suddenly.
The use of counterfeit benzodiazepines and z-drugs were reported to contain inconsistent doses and therefore those taking them are at a higher risk of overdosing.
The NDRDI provides a census of drug-related deaths in Ireland. In 2012, the main drugs causing poisoning deaths were alcohol and benzodiazepines.
A recent report by the Drugs and Alcohol Monitoring System in Dublin 15 reported that there is limited access to psychiatric and detoxification services for people with substance use and mental health disorders. Access to these services was even more limited where problem drugs included alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepines and z-drugs. Waiting lists for access to these services were reported to be too long.
It is more difficult to withdraw from benzodiazepines than heroin