< List of benzodiazepines | Benzos Index | Tips on taking or discontinuing benzodiazepines

1.  Approved Uses

1.1  Anxiety Spectrum Conditions

Probably the best-known, and most common use of benzodiazepines. The nice thing about benzos is you can take them every day or only when you need them (as required, or prn in doctor-speak).

Benzos with FDA-approval to treat anxiety disorders, mostly generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), with or without panic attacks and/or agoraphobia, are:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride)
  • Serax (oxazepam)
  • Tranxene (clorazepate dipotassium)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

1.2  Epilepsy

Their original use, replacing the much older and more dangerous barbiturates. When it comes to epilepsy these days benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat status epilepticus, the non-stop seizures that can lead to brain damage or even death. So you’d either get a dose at the hospital, from an EMT, or, if your life really sucks, at home when it looks like you might be in for status. Some are still taken on a daily basis, almost always with other meds, to treat epilepsy.
Benzos Used for Status Epilepticus:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Versed (midazolam)
  • Onfi (clobazam)
  • Valium (diazepam)

Benzos Used to Treat Epilepsy:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Onfi (clobazam)
  • Tranxene (clorazepate dipotassium)
  • Valium (diazepam)

1.3  Sleep Disorders

As with anxiety spectrum disorders, benzos can be taken nightly or as required. They are also better known as treatments for sleep disorders than as antiepileptic drugs. Unlike the other two approved indications, hardly anyone has heard of the benzos approved to treat sleep disorders:

  • Prosom (estazolam)
  • Doral (quazepam)
  • Dalmane (flurazepam hydrochloride)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)

1.4  Alcohol Withdrawal

The convulsions associated with alcohol withdrawal are also known as delirium tremens, the DTs, the shakes, and numerous other names. Benzos have been used to treat these for a long time, and are the first-line drug of choice. I love the irony of giving a crazy med, and thus socially unacceptable, especially since it’s associated with a nasty withdrawal syndrome, to someone to get them through the potentially life-threatening withdrawal syndrome of a socially acceptable drug. Benzos approved to treat alcohol withdrawal are:

  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride)
  • Tranxene (clorazepate dipotassium)
  • Valium (diazepam)

1.5  Preanesthesia

You think they give you a benzo before surgery to relax you? Wrong. At least, that’s no longer the main reason they use them. The wonderful side effect of memory loss is why benzos are such popular method of preparing people for the anesthesia to follow. It’s the Ativan or Valium that gives you the “where the hell am I” feeling when you come around in the recovery room. Assuming you don’t have a paradoxical reaction to benzos, in which case you get to enjoy the experience of anesthesia awareness.

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)


2.  Off-Label Uses

2.1  Bipolar Disorder

Using, or at least insisting upon, a benzodiazepine as the primary, or only, mood stabilizer should be listed as a symptom of borderline personality disorder. You may as well be using Neurontin (gabapentin). In fact Neurontin would be better, as there’s far less risk of discontinuation syndrome. Neither one is going to work, so you may as well use the less risky placebo. I can understand having a benzo on hand for breakthrough manias if you’ve been through a lot of antipsychotics, both first- and second-generation, and they turned out to be ineffective and/or truly intolerable.1 Taking Ativan or Xanax on those days when you’re bouncing off of the ceiling and the Lamictal alone isn’t doing it for you is a legitimate use of a benzo for bipolar disorder.

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Onfi (clobazam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

Klonopin (clonazepam), Onfi (clobazam), and Valium (diazepam), being the longest-lasting and having the most anticonvulsant effect of the commonly-prescribed benzos in the US are the only ones with a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything in the way of mood stabilization when added to a real mood stabilizer.

2.2  Depression

Given how benzos are CNS depressants, depression is a common side effect of their long-term use, and they have a potential for abuse and addiction, depression seems to be a greater self-defeating application than bipolar disorder. But does that stop people from using them? Of course not. Since anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, it’s easy to confuse what condition is being treated with which med. So taking a benzo to treat the anxiety that accompanies depression is not, in my book, an off-label treatment of depression. Even if your doctor neglected to put an anxiety disorder in your chart. As for treating depression without anxiety, the benzos that may actually be worthwhile, when used along with an actual antidepressant of some kind are:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

2.3  Sleep Disorders

While not approved to treat sleep disorders, these meds are probably prescribed far more often than the benzos with approval.

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)


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< List of benzodiazepines | Benzos Index | Tips on taking or discontinuing benzodiazepines

1 Say side effects along the line of dystonia, tardive dyskinesia, or diabetes, and not gaining five pounds or needing to sleep 7 or 8 hours a night like a normal person.


Common Uses of Benzodiazepines (benzos) by Jerod Poore is copyright © 2012
Author: Jerod Poore. Date created: 20 September 2012 Last edited by: JerodPoore on: 2016–04–18





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1 While there are plenty of books to help you with hypochondria, for some reason there’s not much in the way of websites. Then again, staying off of the Internet is a large part of curing/managing the disorder.

2 Remember kids, Microsloth operating systems are like TOS Star Trek movies with in that every other one sucks way, way more. With TOS Star Trek movies you don’t want to bother watching the odd-numbered ones. With Microsloth OS you don’t want to buy and install the even-numbered ones. Anyone who remembers ME and Vista knows what I mean.

3 Have I mentioned how open source operating systems for commercial applications is one of the dumbest ideas in the history of dumb ideas?* I don’t even need my big-ass rant any more. Heartbleed has made my case for me. And that’s just the one that got all the media attention. The very nature of an open source operating system makes security as much of an illusion as anonymity on teh Intergoogles. Before you flip out too much: the domain Crazymeds is hosted on uses a version of SSL that is not affected by the Heartbleed bug. That’s one of the many reasons why I pay a lot of money and keep this site on Lunarpages.

* Yes, I know I’m using open source browsers. I also test the site using the now-defunct IE and Safari browsers. Their popularity - and superiority - killed IE and Safari, so that’s why I rely on the open source browsers. It’s like brand vs. generic meds. Sometimes the generic is better than the brand.


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