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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 musclespasms and insomnia. BZD’s can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal. In somecases, these medications are used before surgical procedures, to calm and relaxthe patient.

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

BZDs in low dosage can be relaxingdrugs. Moderate doses are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, whilehigh doses of BZDs cause sleepiness. People abusing these medications mightseem drunk of very relaxed.

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

There is several different body samplesused to detect the presence of BZDs in the body. It might be possible toidentify 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 tobe most exact, because it is not affected by some outside factors. This laboratorytest is able to detect the precise drug used, its metabolites and also determinethe exact quantity of the used BZDs. It can be useful to provide the history ofthe drug abuse for the last 90 days.


The drug test which uses saliva ishelpful 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 resultsare reliable if the tested person hasn’t been drinking, eating of cleaningtheir teeth before the testing. Results of the saliva drug testing are ready injust 5 minutes.

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


These tests react to the presence ofBZD’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 samplesneed to be confirmed. GC/MS testing is also the appropriate methodfor confirmation.

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