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What Are Benzodiazepines (Benzos)?

Last updated on August 16th, 2023

What exactly are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs that are commonly used for their sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties.

They work by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which slows down the activity of nerve cells and produces a calming effect.

In other words, Benzos “calm you down” by slowing down brain functions.

What are Benzos used for?

Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for short-term treatment of:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures

Benzos can also be used for:

  • Preoperative sedation
  • Alcohol withdrawal

Benzodiazepines Come With Different Names

Some examples of commonly used benzos include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)

Dangers of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and can lead to dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if used long-term or at high doses.

They also have potential for abuse and can cause side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Memory problems

Are Benzodiazepines Addictive?

Yes. Benzos affect the brain’s reward system by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

When benzodiazepines are taken, they produce a calming and relaxing effect, which can be reinforcing for some people.

Over time, the brain may adapt to their presence and require increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect, leading to physical dependence.

Are Benzodiazepines used as adulterants?

Yes, Benzos have been known to be used as adulterants or “cuts” in other substances, particularly in illicit drugs such as:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine


To enhance the sedative or euphoric effects of the drug, or to mitigate the negative effects of withdrawal.

Is it dangerous to have Benzos laced in your substance?


The use of benzodiazepines in this manner is highly dangerous and can increase the risk of overdose, as combining different drugs can have unpredictable and potentially deadly effects.

In addition, the presence of benzodiazepines in a drug may also increase the risk of addiction and dependence.

Benzodiazepines and the Controlled Drugs and Substance act exemption in BC, Canada

The exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act allows for personal possession of small amounts of certain illegal drugs from January 31, 2023 to January 31, 2026, as part of a harm reduction strategy to address the ongoing drug crisis in Canada.

HOWEVER, this exemption doesn’t include Benzos. A drug that is frequently found in other substances. This means that police can still arrest people who may not know that their supply has been mixed.

Testing Drugs for Benzos

Dealers don’t always sell what they say they’re selling. The chances of a dangerous side effects or overdose/overamping is increased when substances are misrepresented.

You can get test kits for a wide array of substances.

Benzo Test Kit »