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Some facts about benzodiazepines and their uses


Glossary over Some facts about benzodiazepines and their uses

Active ingredient

The term “active ingredient” is mostly used in drugs to name the substance which is pharmaceutically active.

The term “active substance” is also used in biocidal products to name the component which actually kills, or otherwise controls pests or bacteria.

It is not necessarily the largest or most hazardous component of the product. Some products may contain more than one active ingredient or substance. Non-active ingredients are often called inert ingredients. (Source: GreenFacts)


The term alcohol refers to a family of chemicals that occur widely in nature and are mass-produced for use in antifreezes, fuels and some manufacturing processes.

Alcohol is commonly used to refer to alcohol-containing drinks such as wine, beer and spirits. In this case the alcohol, ethanol, has been produced by a process called fermentation. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness and may be harmful to health. (Source: GreenFacts)

Alcohol dependence

A chronic disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, a constant or periodic reliance on use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking is stopped, and the need for increasing amounts of alcohol to feel its effects. (Source: NIH Understanding Alcohol glossary   )


Amphetamines are man-made stimulant drugs.

Their effects usually last for several hours and include stimulation of the central nervous system, a sense of well-being and higher energy, a release of social inhibitions, and feelings of cleverness, competence and power. Effects are very much like an adrenalin rush, with breathing and heart rate increasing. The appetite is also suppressed, the body's temperature increases, the pupils become dilated, and there is an increased risk of dehydration.

They have been used as medicines for instance for treating Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. They have also been used as performance-enhancing drug, for instance by athletes, pilots, and truck drivers.

They have a bitter taste and usually come as a white, greyish white, pale pink or yellow powder, and sometimes as a brightly coloured tablet.

Amphetamines can be snorted, swallowed, injected, dissolved in a drink or smoked. (Source: GreenFacts, based on A to Z of Drugs  )


Chloral hydrate

CCl3CH(OH)2. Chloral hydrate is a haloaldehyde, an organic compound. (Source: For more information on the chlorate ion: WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality  )

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness characterized by prolonged fatigue causing a loss of energy or strength and many nonspecific symptoms such as headache, recurring sore throat, muscle and joint pain and memory and concentration problems. Currently, there is no known cause, cure or universal treatment for this disease. (Source: GreenFacts )


Cocaine is a very strong stimulant drug affecting the nervous system.

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant found in South America and comes in the form of a white powder. In this form, cocaine can be snorted up the nose, tasted on the gums, or dissolved and injected.

Cocaine users feel – for about half an hour – a sense of well-being, confidence and alertness, and they are left with a craving for more, as well as a feeling of indifference. Users also experience dilated pupils, a rise in body temperature, and increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as the depression and tiredness of the comedown. (Source: GreenFacts, based on A to Z of Drugs  )



Having to do with the ability to think and reason. This includes the ability to concentrate, remember things, process information, learn, speak, and understand. (Source: NCI dictionary  )


Depressants are substances that [diminish] the activity of the central nervous system.

Depressants are often referred to as "downers" because of their sedative, hypnotic, and tranquilizing effects.

There are both legal and illegal depressants. Alcohol is the most common legal depressant. Other depressants that are legal are often prescribed medications used to induce sleep, relieve stress, and subdue anxiety. (Source:   Depressants   )



Depression is a mental condition affecting an individual’s mood.

It is characterized by a range of negative feelings such as sadness, loneliness, despair, low self-esteem and guilt.

A depressed person may lose interest in many aspects of life and no longer find pleasure in activities and relationships. (Source: GreenFacts)


Dopamine is a chemical substance produced in the body to transmit signals between nerve cells. It is found in parts of the brain responsible for the regulation of movement, balance and walking as well as those involved in memory and learning.


Epidemiological studies

Studies on human populations, which attempt to link human health effects (e.g. cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a specific chemical). (Source: GreenFacts)



Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. These happen when clusters of nerve cells in the brain undergo a sudden surge of electrical activity, resulting in strange sensations, emotions or behaviour. Epileptics may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.

Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines can control seizures for most people. (Source: GreenFacts )



Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain of the muscles and bones, stiffness, general fatigue, and sleep disturbances. The underlying cause remains unknown, yet most researchers agree that it is related to the nervous system. There are several suggested explanations for fibromyalgia, such as genetic predisposition, stress, trauma, psychological problems. Treatment includes pain and sleep management and psychological support. (Source: GreenFacts )

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

A chemical messenger in the brain, spinal cord, heart, lungs, and kidneys, which sends messages telling the body to slow down. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. (Source: Glossary   )


The liver is a big reddish-brow organ lying beneath the diaphragm on the right side. The liver is made up for a great part of liver cells which absorb nutrients and detoxify and remove harmful substances from the blood such as drugs and alcohol. The liver has many other vital functions and there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver.

Other liver functions include:

  • controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood
  • fighting infections in the body, particularly infections arising in the bowel.
  • manufacturing bile, a kind of digestive juice which aids in the digestion of fats
  • storing iron, certain vitamins and other essential chemicals
  • breaking down food and turning it into energy
  • manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones
  • making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.
Mesolimbic dopamine pathway

Brain circuit that is activated by rewarding stimuli, e.g., food, sex and by addictive psychoactive drugs, such as cocaine , amphetamines , and alcohol . The intense feeling from activation of the reward or pleasure experienced previously leads to a desire for, or repetition of, the behaviour.

In chronic substance users this can lead to chronic and intense cravings which may be activated by anticipatory dopamine release in response to cues (e.g. drug use implements).

The mesolimbic dopamine pathway comprises the ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (Nac) and the prefrontal cortex. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Alcohol & Other Drugs A to Z Drug Glossary   )


A substance that is the product of biological changes to a chemical. (Source: US EPA Glossary  )


Nervous system

The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities.

It is made up of:

  • the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and
  • the peripheral nervous system which includes, the eyes, the ears, the sensory organs of taste and smell, as well as the sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body.

Of, or relating to, nerves and the muscles they stimulate. (Source: Science@NASA NASA neurolab Glossary  )


Neurons are the nerve cells that make up the central nervous system.

This unique type of cell found in the brain that receives and conducts electric imulses, processing and transmitting information

A neuron consists of a cell body containing the nucleus, a single axon which sends messages by conveying electrical signals to other neurons, and a host of dendrites which deliver incoming signals. (Source: GreenFacts)



Chemical responsible for the transfer of information along the nervous system. (Source: IPCS )



Class of drugs (e.g., heroin, codeine, methadone) that are derived from the opium poppy plant, contain opium, or are produced synthetically and have opium-like effects. Opioid drugs relieve pain, dull the senses, and induce sleep. (Source: San Francisco AIDS Foundation Glossary   )


Persistent organic pollutants

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. This group of priority pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans).

Persistent Organic Pollutants are transported across international boundaries far from their sources, even to regions where they have never been used or produced. (Source: European Commission Environment DG POPs  )


Study of the biological, chemical and physical activities and processes that underlie the functioning of living organisms (cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems) and their parts. (Source: GreenFacts)


The frequency of a disease may be measured in two (standard) ways:

  • Prevalence is the total number of persons known to have had the disease at any time during a specific period. It gives an idea of the importance/burden of disease at a given time, and it is widely used in public health monitoring and planning.
  • Incidence

A molecule on the surface of a cell that serves as a recognition or binding site for antigens, antibodies or other cellular or immuniologic components. (Source: NIAID HIV vaccine Glossary   )

Respiratory tract

The organs that are involved in breathing.

These include the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Also known as the respiratory system. (Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Glossary   )


Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

"The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation and represents urban and rural general practitioners. We represent more than 35,000 members working in or towards a career in general practice.

The RACGP's mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all people in Australia by supporting GPs, general practice registrars and medical students through its principal activities of education, training and research and by assessing doctors' skills and knowledge, supplying ongoing professional development activities, developing resources and guidelines, helping GPs with issues that affect their practice, and developing standards that general practices use to ensure high quality healthcare." (Source:  )


Chemical messenger [(neurotransmitter)] in the brain that affects emotions, behavior, and thought (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center Women’s Health Glossary   )

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was established in 1993.

Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies.

The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support the drugs debate.

Today it offers policymakers the data they need for drawing up informed drug laws and strategies. It also helps professionals and practitioners working in the field pinpoint best practice and new areas of research. (Source:   )


Measures taken to treat a physical or mental disease.

First-line therapy is the first type of therapy given for a condition or disease.

Second-line therapy is the treatment that is given when initial treatment (first-line therapy) doesn't work, or stops working. (Source: based on St Jude Hospital Medical Terminology & Drug Database )


Tinnitus is a condition in which a person hears a ringing, buzzing or hissing sound which is caused by the hearing system itself and not by any external sources.

Tinnitus can be temporary or persistent and is relatively widespread. It is often associated with hearing impairment, ageing or exposure to loud sounds, and generally involves the part of the nervous system that deals with hearing. (Source: GreenFacts, based on SCENIHR   "Potential health risks of exposure to noise from personal music players" )


Withdrawal refers to the physical and mental symptoms drug-dependent people experience when they stop taking the drug they depend upon or when they drastically reduce its use. (Source: GreenFacts)


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