Sedative dependence develops with long-term use of benzodiazepines (BDZ), sometimes called “benzos,” a class of psychoactive drugs that are in the family of medicines commonly known as minor tranquilizers.
BDZ act on receptors on the central nervous system (CNS) resulting in sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant (anti-seizure), and muscle relaxant properties. These effects make BDZ useful for the short-term treatment of medical and psychiatric conditions such as alcohol dependence, seizures, anxiety disorders, panic, agitation, muscle spasms, and insomnia.
In the 19702, BDZ were the most prescribed drugs in the world — the so-called “benzodiazepine bonanza.” Approximately twice as many women as men are prescribed BDZ. It is hypothesized that this is largely because men usually turn to alcohol to cope with struggles whereas women resort to taking prescription drugs such as BDZ.