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1.
A benzodiazepine (often called benzo) psychoactive/psychotropic drug class whose core chemical structure is composed by the fusion of both benzene and diazepine rings. Derivatives of the benzodiazepines are rather well known and commonly prescribed (or illicitly used) for their sedative-hypnotic, muscle relaxant, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), amnesia, and anticonvulsant effects. They have largely replaced barbiturate drugs.

The most commonly recognized and known derivatives include Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam) and Klonopin (clonazepam). There are numerous benzodiazepine derivatives than those stated here, and most have very similar effects to one another as described before. The differences between benzodiazepines include their chemical structure, potency, and relatively subtle differences in their effects (e.g. Ativan has more amnesic effects than Valium, Valium has an extremely long duration of action, Xanax has fast onset and wears off quickly, and Klonopin has stronger anticonvulsant effects.)

Dependence is not uncommon (this is NOT addiction), but that does not mean addiction can't happen. So doctors sometimes refuse to prescribe these.

Overall though, benzodiazepines are safe, effective, and have a wide range of applications. They also ACTUALLY work, and work very well. It is safe to say that had they not been discovered, we would probably still be using barbiturates.
I have been prescribed Ativan, Xanax (and Xanax XR), Klonopin, Serax (oxazepam), and Valium for my anxiety problems that are co-morbid with the dysthymia (long lasting chronic mild to moderate depression) and ADHD I have. I also take Lexapro and Adderall.

Right now I am currently sticking with Ativan for anxiety, but am free to change since my doctor is pretty much more than happy to switch me to something else if I feel the need or desire to change. All the benzodiazepines I have taken have been useful, but my least favorite one was Klonopin for some reason. Klonopin sometimes agreed with me, sometimes it didn't agree with me. Serax worked well, and kicked in fast, had a low potency but was inflexible with regards to dosing options.

Valium is one that I am very fond of because when taken at the right dosage (despite its low potency) it is a great drug. It is a shame that other doctors are not like mine and don't have this crazy fear of prescribing Valium because of that Mothers Little Helper and 1970s hysteria, but things are changing. If I ever wish to taper off, I can always use Valium.

Xanax IR/XR is a tricky one because of its chemical structure and can cause bad rebound and make it a pain to switch to other benzos. Long story short, certain people's brains when taking Xanax react weird and have a lot trouble switching and have to slowly be "rewired."
by TMER91 March 24, 2012