Benzodiazepines have been available since the 1960s and have since been used to treat problems such as severe anxiety and insomnia. Before benzodiazepines, such conditions were treated with barbiturates, which were commonly linked to fatal overdoses. They are sometimes referred to as ‘benzos’ or BZD/BDZ. They should not be confused with the more recently introduced drugs BZP and ‘benzo fury’.
There are a wide variety of benzodiazepines, which differ in the balance of effects they have, and how long they last. The most well-known types include diazepam (Valium), temazepam, nitrazepam and others, usually with names ending in –pam or -lam. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is a benzodiazepine but due to suggestions that it has been used as a ‘date rape drug’, it is now illegal in some European countries, outside of medical use.