“Benzos” are doctor-prescribed drugs used to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and induce sleep. There are fifteen benzodiazepines currently marketed in the U.S., most often prescribed in tablet or capsule form. Some examples include Xanax, Valium, and Librium. In general, benzodiazepines act as sedatives in low doses, anti-depressants in moderate doses, and hypnotics in high doses. The drugs are used illegally as “downers” to combat the effects of stimulants such as cocaine, speed, and ecstasy, and to counteract the effects of depressants like heroine and alcohol.

Benzodiazepine users experience forgetfulness, confusion, and drowsiness, so driving or operating heavy machinery under the influence of such drugs is not a good idea. High doses can cause physical addiction. If you’ve used benzos for more than 3 weeks, it’s best to reduce use gradually because withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Such symptoms include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, headaches, sweating, and nausea.