Also called: benzos, jellies, sleepers, roofies, downers, D5s, D10s.

How it’s used

Benzodiazepines are a sedative (‘downer’). You can get them as a tablet, capsule, injection or suppository. They are prescribed to reduce anxiety or stress, encourage sleep or to relax muscles. They are sometimes used to ease the comedown from stimulant drugs (‘uppers’) such as ecstasy, cocaine and speed or with other ‘downer’ drugs such as alcohol and heroin.

Short-term effects

•    They can begin to affect you after 10 to 15 minutes and last up to 6 hours
•    Depresses your nervous system and slows your body down
•    Relieves stress, anxiety and tension and can make you more calm and relaxed
•    You can become drowsy, forgetful and confused which can lead to accidents

Long-term effects

•    Short-term memory loss
•    They may lose their effect as ‘sleeping pills’ after only two weeks of continuous use. They no longer control anxiety after four months of regular use.

Other dangers

•    Very dangerous if you stop suddenly
•    Mixing them with other downers like alcohol or heroin increases your risk of fatal overdose
•    Injecting tablets or capsules is very dangerous and can cause septicaemia (blood poisoning), abscesses, thrombosis, gangrene, loss of limbs and even death
•    You are at risk of HIV and hepatitis if you share injecting equipment
•    Rohypnol has been linked with ‘date rapes’ and sexual assaults

If you are pregnant

If you use benzos during pregnancy, there is a higher risk of your baby being born with a cleft palate (an abnormality of the lip or mouth). Using high doses before you deliver can seriously affect your baby’s breathing at birth and may kill them. Your baby may have withdrawal for up to 2-4 weeks after delivery and may find it difficult to suck. Your baby may be at greater risk of cot death.


You can quickly become addicted to benzodiazepines physically, so your body craves it, and psychologically, so you find it hard to cope with life without it. Because your tolerance increases over time, you have to keep taking more to get the same buzz.


The effects of benzodiazepines can last up to 24 hours. Withdrawal symptoms can begin between one and seven days after your last dose and can last for several months. Symptoms include anxiety, confusion and serious convulsions (‘benzo fits’). These can be dangerous and you may need medical help.
How long does it stay in your system?
Benzodiazepines will show up in a urine test for 2-28 days.