Minor tranquillisers are absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the central nervous system. They are depressants because they slow down physical, mental and emotional responses. Most tranquillisers are based on benzodiazepine or, more rarely, barbiturates. The most common benzodiazepine tranquillisers are diazepam, known as Valium or Ducene; oxazepam, known as Serepax; nitrazepam, known as Mogadon; tempazepam, known as Normison; flunitrazepam, known as Rohypnol; and clonazepam known as Rivotril.
Forms and Appearance
Most tranquillisers are seen in capsule or tablet form in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. They have a number of different brand names, which are the same drug made by different companies.
Medical and Other Uses
Minor tranquillisers are usually prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems. They can be used to treat panic disorders and muscle spasms. Minor tranquillisers only treat the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. They do not treat the cause of these symptoms. Only doctors can prescribe minor tranquillisers as they are restricted substances under the NSW Poisons Act.
Combining minor tranquillisers with alcohol, pain killers and anti-histamines like cough, cold and allergy medications can result in unconsciousness and failure to breathe.
Methods of Use
Benzodiazepine is usually taken orally, as tablets, capsules or a liquid. Sometimes it is injected.
Effects of Use
Common short-term effects, when used as prescribed include relief from symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia. In higher doses, the user will have feelings of euphoria and dreaminess, and will have no feelings of worry, fear, hunger or cold.
When used in higher doses, effects include lethargy, irritability, violent mood swings, aggression, nausea, loss of sexual interest, and increased appetite and weight.
Illegal use, possession or supply of minor tranquillisers carries a fine of up to $2,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment.
Tolerance and Dependence
Tolerance develops very quickly with continues use. With sleeping tablets, this can happen in 3 nights.
Dependence occurs in 4 to 6 weeks.
Withdrawal occurs when a person stops using minor tranquillisers or severely cuts down their dose. Symptoms can include sleeping problems; tension; muscle pain; pain attacks and depression. If someone has been regularly using minor tranquillisers for more than 2 or 3 weeks, they should not stop suddenly. They should be discontinued gradually over a period of months under the supervision of a doctor, pharmacist or health worker. Some people find that massage, relaxation techniques and stress management help during withdrawal. If possible, withdrawal should begin when there is some degree of stability in a person’s life.
Overdose of minor tranquillisers can cause convulsions, breathing problems, coma and death.
The blue 1mg Ativan tablet is shown to the left of a number of medicinal preparations produced by other manufacturers under the non-proprietary or generic title of lorazepam
The yellow 2.5mg Ativan tablet is shown to the left of a sample of non-proprietary lorazepam preparations produced by other manufacturers
A sample of the medicinal preparations produced by manufacturers under the non-proprietary title oxazepam
Librium tablets and capsules of 5mg strength. Librium contains the drug chlordiazepoxide
Tenuate Dospan tablets also contain the drug diethylpropion. Because of their potential for misuse, they have been brought within the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act
Duromine contains the drug phentermine in two strengths, 15mg and 30mg
Ionamin also contains the drug phentermine in two strengths, 15mg and 30mg
Teronac contains the drug mazindol in a white tablet of 2mg strength
Adifax contains 15mg of the drug dexfenfluramine hydrochloride
Ponderax capsule each containing 60mg of fenfluramine hydrochloride, a drug related to amphetamine