Benzodiazepines/Tranquillisers are medication that is prescribed by a doctor to relieve anxiety and assist with sleeping problems. When experiencing stress or a loss these medications are given for a specific length of time.

Also known as Benzodiazepines

Examples include:

For anxiety

  • Ativan 
  • Lexotan
  • Serepax
  • Xanor 

For sleep

  • Valium
  • Normison
  • Halcion
  • Rohypnol

How are Tranquillisers used?

A script (prescription) is given by a doctor and the medication is usually in the form of a tablet. These are swallowed by the user

Symptoms of Tranquilliser use:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling unsteady and tired (known as ‘mental fussiness’)
  • Taking medication for longer than prescribed and increasing the amount to get a better effect.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the medication.
  • Carrying many pills with you at all times

What are the effects of Tranquillisers?

  • Decreases anxiety
  • Mood changes from anxious to normal
  • Relaxation
  • Sleep 
  • Makes the person feel that they can cope with difficult feelings.

What are the long-term effects?


Tranquillisers should only be used for a short time when prescribed by a doctor. This is usually for a period of 4 weeks. They are given for a specific problem. When they seem to be relieving the symptoms of the problem the user will feel that it is a solution to all their problems and will begin to use to more. When they are used for longer than suggested the person will become dependant on them. When used with another substance e.g. Alcohol or Mandrax, the user becomes over-sedated.

What happens when you STOP using?

When the user decides to stop it is important that they get help from a doctor because it can be dangerous to suddenly stop taking the medication. The withdrawal needs to be done slowly and with medical supervision. The user may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia