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Benzodiazepines are medications that lower the activity of the nerves in the brain and cause you to be drowsy.¹
Benzodiazepines work by boosting the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.¹ GABA is a chemical that reduces electrical activity in the brain.¹
Benzodiazepines can be used to treat problems such as general anxiety disorder, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures.¹ ² ³
Other safety information
If a person has been taking a benzodiazepines for a long time they can develop dependence. When this happens stopping the medication suddenly can cause withdrawal and you can experience tremors, sweating, upset stomach, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain, heart problems, seizures, and even death.² It is recommended to slowly taper off the medication by lowering the dose slowly lowered over weeks to months to reduce the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.¹⁰
Stopping benzodiazepines can be complicated and a pharmacist should be consulted along with your prescribing clinician to help develop a plan.
Shedrick Martin, PharmD, May 2022
To view the references for this resource, please visit aapp.org/390124.
©2022 American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP). AAPP makes this document available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Last Updated: January 2016.
This information is being provided as a community outreach effort of the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists. This information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice. This information contains a summary of important points and is not an exhaustive review of information about the topic. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified medical professional with any questions you may have regarding medications or medical conditions. Never delay seeking professional medical advice or disregard medical professional advice as a result of any information provided herein. The American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists disclaims any and all liability alleged as a result of the information provided herein.