Brand names: Diazepam, Flurazepam, Temazepam, Nirrazepam, Tirazelam

Street names: Vallies (Diazepam), Moggies (Nirrazepam), Rugby balls, Eggs (Temazepam)

Street use: Benzodiazepines are swallowed in large numbers or can be injected by crushing tablets or injecting jelly from the capsules. Benzodiazepines are often mixed with other drugs.

Drug effect: Benzodiazepines are depressants or 'downers'. They act on the part of the brain associated with anxiety, reduce tension and induce sleep. At high doses they produce 'drunken' and sometimes aggressive behaviour.

Dependency: At low levels within the therapeutic range, tolerance does not develop to any great extent and only small increases in doses are reported over time. But among street users who are using large amounts, tolerance to the sedative effects ( but not to the calming effects) develops rapidly and doses escalate.

Withdrawal: Some people report withdrawal symptoms after only four weeks use. Sudden withdrawal from Benzodiazepines is dangerous as seizure can occur.

Long-term use: The effects include mental confusion, depression, aggressive behaviour and loss of physical co-ordination. Injecting with dirty or used needles can cause serious infections like hepatitis B and HIV. Injecting crushed tablets or jelly can cause serious circulation problems and in some cases loss of limbs.

Overdose risk: Death from overdose is rare with this drug because large doses are needed but the risk increases if benzodiazapines are mixed with other 'downers' like opiates, barbiturates and alcohol.

Risk in pregnancy: Babies born to mothers who continue to take benzodiazapines during pregnancy may have withdrawal symptoms which include tremor, irritability, and hyperactivity.

Legal status: Prescription only medicines and Class C controlled drugs. This means they can be possessed in medicinal form without a prescription but it is an offence to supply them to others. All benzodiazapines carry the same penalties, as listed below.

Maximum penalty:

For possession: (if not in medicinal form): 2 years and /or unlimited fine

For dealing: 5 years and/or unlimited fine

SPECIAL NOTE: Temazepam – gel filled capsules have now been developed to replace liquid capsules in order to prevent use by injection.