In this article we explore the subject of Benzodiazepines. What kind of drugs are they? Who invented them? And, for how long do Benzodiazepines stay in your system?
What are Benzodiazepines?
In terms of sedative drugs, the most prescribed ones are benzodiazepines, which could be short or long acting. Temazepam and Rohypnol are examples of short-acting ones that are used for sleeping tablets (hypnotics). lorazepam and diazepam are longer acting ones that are prescribed for treating anxiety (anxiolytics).
These drugs are effective in quickly relieving severe anxiety symptoms since they start working in 30 to 90 minutes.
Benzodiazepines are also used as a muscle relaxant, to treat mania and epilepsy, as a pre-operative relaxant as well as in treating withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and opiates.
In the UK, the most popular benzodiazepine is Valium. Besides their medical use in the UK, benzodiazepines are also used as a recreational drug. Slang names for the drug include benzos, temazies, jellies, eggs, moggies and vallies.
How they work
Benzodiazepines work by increasing the amount of GABA (Gabba Amino Butyric Acid) a brain neurotransmitter. Taking this drug calms the brain.
In the 1960s, tranquillisers were created as a non-addictive drug that was used for treating insomnia and anxiety. They were made to be a safer option for barbiturates, which were known to be addictive and could be very harmful in an overdose.
Women, in particular, seem to suffer the side effects and become addicted to tranquillisers, even though doctors have been increasingly prescribing them for over 20 years. In the late 1970s, the severity of the problem became known. In 1979 there were over 30 million tranquillisers prescriptions and in 2012 that number plummeted to 11 million (see following prevalence section).
Benzodiazepines have been used recreationally for a long time and users take them for their sedative and relaxing properties.
How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System?
There are many variables that will determine how long benzodiazepines are detectable in the body. One important consideration is the type of drug test being used to do the testing (urine, saliva or hair) as each type of tests works within a specific timetable of detection.
Benzodiazepines are only detectable within a short time-frame with some types of drug tests. Other types of drug tests can still pick up drug usage up to three months later.
Another important factor that will determine how long benzodiazepines are detectable in the system is the physical makeup of the individual. Here a number of variables combine – body mass, physical activity, state of health, hydration – making it virtually impossible to indicate an exact amount of time in which benzodiazepines will show up on a drug test.
Detection Times for Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines can be detected by various testing methods. Saliva drug tests are best for detecting very recent use or for impairment. Urine tests detect drug use in the last few days. A hair follicle test offers the longest history but can’t be used until a week after drug usage.
How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System? The following is an estimated range of detection times for Benzodiazepines using the three main types of drug test:
As per the Medicines Act, all benzodiazepines are considered Prescription Only Medicines, which mean that only a pharmacist can legally supply them once they have a prescription from a doctor.
As per the Misuse of Drugs Act, they are a class C drug and are controlled accordingly. Possessing the drug has a maximum prison time of 2 years. Supplying the drug to another person and producing the drug has a 14-year maximum sentence along with a fine.
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This post has been updated since its original publication in 2014.