What are they?
Benzos (formally known as benzodiazepines), are drugs typically used to treat anxiety and some sleep conditions. They are classified as depressants, which means that they slow down the messages travelling between the brain and the body – basically it means that we are a few steps behind the beat. Benzos are sometimes also called, tranx, sleepers, xannies, and moggies.
Benzos are commonly swallowed in tablet form but can also be injected in liquid form. With injecting, there is a risk of contracting blood borne viruses, such as hepatitis B & C and HIV if needles are shared. There is also the risk of infection at the injecting site.
What are the effects?
- Reduced stress
- Reduced anxiety
- Feelings of isolation
- Impaired thinking and memory loss
- Drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech or stuttering
- Blurred or doubled vision
- Impaired coordination, dizziness and tremors
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- If injected, deep vein thrombosis and clots which can result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and death
- Impaired thinking or memory loss
- Anxiety and depression
- Irritability, paranoia and aggression
- Personality changes
- Weakness, lethargy and lack of motivation
- Drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping or disturbing dreams
- Skin rashes and weight gain
Benzos are not recommended for use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, and they can be dangerous for people with acute asthma, emphysema or sleep apnoea, and those with advanced liver or kidney disease.
If we take a large amount or have a strong batch of benzos, then it’s possible to overdose. Knowing the signs of overdose helps keeps us and others safe, and when we might need to call an ambulance.
Watch out for these symptoms and call 000 in an emergency:
Over-sedation or sleep
Jitteriness and excitability
Mood swings and aggression
Slow, shallow breathing
Unconsciousness or coma
Mixing with other drugs
The effects of mixing benzos with other drugs – including over the counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous. Do not mix benzos with the following medications because it may increase the risk of overdose, and even death:
There are a range of unsafe interactions to be cautious of when mixing benzos and other drugs, and they can be found at the Australian Drug Foundation
The interactions between benzos and antiretroviral medications are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that benzo use directly reduces the efficacy of antiretroviral medications. If some new research comes to light, then we’ll update this section and let you know.
We did find that protease inhibitors and other drugs, including Delvirdine, Efavirenz, Etravirine and Nevirapine, can impact the effects of benzos, either increasing or decreasing their effects. It’s best to chat with an HIV specialist if using these medications and taking benzos just in case any HIV medication dosages need to be altered.
The interactions between benzos and PrEP and PEP are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that benzos use directly interacts with these medications or reduces their efficacy. We’ll keep looking and update you if any new research comes to light.
To learn about the interactions between specific HIV medications and benzos head to Liverpool HIV Drug Interactions Checker.
There’s currently no evidence to suggest that benzos reduce the efficacy of HRT. We’ll keep looking and update this information if something new comes to light.
The interactions between benzos and HRT are not well known. Progesterone and Cyproterone Acetate can have sedative effects, so we may be particularly tired, fatigued or sleepy during or after taking benzos.