There are two types of tranquillisers – ‘major’ (which are non-addictive antipsychotics) and ‘minor’ (which are relaxants that are addictive and liable to misuse).
Here we’re just talking about the ‘minor tranquillisers’. These tranquillisers can induce periods of calmness, relaxation and sleep and are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They are prescription only medicines that can normally only be prescribed following a consultation with a doctor.
There are many different types of minor tranquillisers, but the most common are the group of drugs called benzodiazepines. These include Rohypnol, Valium (also called diazepam), temazepam and phenazepam (although this latter drug is sometimes found in street drugs, it is not prescribed by doctors in the UK).
The key effects of tranquillisers include:
In medicine, tranquillisers are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They come as tablets, capsules, injections or suppositories (tablets inserted up the bum); and come in a wide variety of colours. On average a 10mg diazepam pill costs £1. In the club scene, tranquillisers are often used as chill-out drugs. Some people use them to help come down off acid, cocaine, speed or ecstasy after a big night out.
Tranquillisers are prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Because of concerns about their addictiveness, they are mainly recommended only to be used in such cases for short-term use and when the problems are severe. They are also sometimes used to control epileptic fits and to treat alcohol withdrawals.
They have a number of effects:
Using tranquillisers can be risky, and especially dangerous if you mix them with other depressant drugs like heroin or alcohol.
Here’s what tranquillisers can do to you:
Most tranquillisers that are available on the street are either stolen from a hospital or pharmacy or from people who got them on a prescription. They might have also been imported from abroad. You cannot normally be sure of the purity unless you are certain that the drug you have is a genuine pharmacy medicine.
Tranquillisers can cause psychological and physical addiction and, because tolerance increases over time, users may have to keep increasing their dose either to get the same hit, or just to maintain the initial positive medical effect on their anxiety or insomnia. It is because of the risk of
Dependence that tranquillisers are recommended normally only to be used for short periods of time and only for severe cases.
Withdrawal can cause unpleasant symptoms like a pounding headache, nausea, anxiety and confusion. Some people report withdrawal symptoms after only four weeks' use. These can be
Dangerous and require medical help. If you, or a friend, has a problem with tranquillisers and want to stop using, you should talk to your GP for help and support.
The other type of tranquillisers, the ‘major’ tranquillisers (antipsychotics) are not addictive.