Benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders but they are also a commonly used recreational drug, often to counter the effects of a come down and for their anxiety reducing effects. The most common benzos used by recreational users in the UK are diazepam (Valium) and Xanax (Alprazolam).

The main issues for people who use benzos that are not prescribed to them are that benzos are highly addictive and that they are often ‘mis-sold’, meaning that the drug you receive is often not the one you intended by buy. This blog will discuss these issues and how to minimise the risks.


Dependence

If you notice that you’re taking benzo more often or at a higher dose, the thought of not having benzos fills you with anxiety or if you experience withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes, feeling agitated, headaches, sweats or psychosis (amongst others), it’s possible you may be dependent on benzos. If you think you might be dependent, here’s what to do:

  • Do not stop using benzos suddenly as you will be at risk of potentially life threatening seizures.
  • Seek support from your GP. They are able to prescribe to you at a reducing dose until you are benzo free.
  • Contact PostScript 360. They can advocate your case to your GP, provide practical support over the phone and face to face therapy if you’re Bristol/South Glos based (currently over the phone due to Covid-19). You should also contact your local drug service who will be able to give you some extra support.

Contaminated Supply

Benzos are regularly ‘mis-sold’, meaning that the drugs a person receives is not what they intended to buy. In the past few weeks there have been a huge number of reports of this happening from all across the UK. If you’re buying benzos, follow these steps to keep yourself safe:

  • Don’t be fooled by convincing packaging/branding. A google image search of the pills or packaging cannot confirm what is in the batch that you bought.
  • Test each new batch at WEDINOS. The results should only take a few days.
  • If the results come back as you expected, start with a test dose and don’t use alone. WEDINOS is not able to tell you what dose is in each pill.
  • If the results come back as something different, either throw it away or spend some time researching the substance before you decide whether or not to take it. If you do decide to take it, start with a test dose and don’t use alone.

**Bristol Alert**

The Drop sent a sample to WEDINOS for testing after a user in Bristol reported strange and unexpectedly strong effects (extreme muscle relaxation, slurred speech, memory loss, blackout, strong rebound anxiety) from taking one pill branded as 10mg ‘Neliz’ diazepam. When we received the result on 7/7/2020 it actually turned out to be flualprazolam, a benzo that has only been in circulation since 2017. There’s limited information about flualprazolam but the consensus seems to be that its effects are similar to alprazolam but more potent and unpredictable. If you come across this substance, proceed with caution.


If you use benzos or other drugs, use the buttons below to read our harm reduction advice, find out more about The Drop or contact us.

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