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Benzodiazepines (BZD) are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the United States (US). These drugs are the treatment for: anxiety, convulsion attacks and muscle spasms and insomnia. BZD’s can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal. In some cases, these medications are used before surgical procedures, to calm and relax the patient.

Some of the most well known benzodiazepines are: alprazolam, bromazepam, chlordiazepoxid, diazepam, oxazepam, and midazolam.

BZDs in low dosage can be relaxing drugs. Moderate doses are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, while high doses of BZDs cause sleepiness. People abusing these medications might seem drunk of very relaxed.

The chronic use of these drugs may cause tolerance and addiction. It means that people using/abusing BZDs have to increase the dose gradually, in order to get the same effects. Also, sudden cessation or reduction of the dose can cause rebound or withdrawal symptoms. These effects appear even in those people using BZDs for a short time (couple of weeks). They might feel even worse than at the beginning of using the drugs or experience some totally new symptoms, because their body needs the drug.

There is several different body samples used to detect the presence of BZDs in the body. It might be possible to identify BZDs in the hair, saliva or urine.


To discover the abuse of BZDs, laboratory needs only a small sample of hair. This kind of testing is said to be most exact, because it is not affected by some outside factors. This laboratory test is able to detect the precise drug used, its metabolites and also determine the exact quantity of the used BZDs. It can be useful to provide the history of the drug abuse for the last 90 days.


The drug test which uses saliva is helpful to determine whether the person used the drug in the last 3 days (72 hours). These tests are less invasive than others and because of that widely used. The results are reliable if the tested person hasn’t been drinking, eating of cleaning their teeth before the testing. Results of the saliva drug testing are ready in just 5 minutes.

Positive results need to be confirmed by a GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) test.


These tests react to the presence of BZD’s metabolite, oxazepam. If the amount of oxazepam is higher than 300 ng/ml, the test is positive and it can be seen as two red or pink bands on the teststrip.

As in saliva testing, positive urine samples need to be confirmed. GC/MS testing is also the appropriate method for confirmation.

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