These prescription pills are often used to take the edge off a drug comedown. But what are tranquillizers? And are there any risks in taking temazepam, valium, or diazepam?

blue and white pills

There are several types of benzodiazepines

What are tranquillizers?

Tranqs are prescription drugs usually dolled out by doctors to people with severe anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, or with muscle tension issues. They belong to a group of chemicals called benzodiazepines (benzos) that relax the muscles and make you sleepy.

Lots of people take tranquillizers illegally and without a doctor’s prescription.

How do you take tranquillizers?

They mostly come in tablets or capsules that people swallow. Some people inject them, but this is very dangerous and thankfully rare since they banned gel-filled capsules.

Why do people take tranquillizers?

  • All your worries just… stop. The world seems almost perfect. Perfect and a little bit fuzzy…
  • Your muscles just give over and flop, like all your bones have been removed.
  • You’ll sleep like a baby. In fact, you’ll probably sleep better than a baby.
  • Lots of people take them when coming down from stimulant drugs like MDMA.

What are the bad side effects of tranquillizers?

  • They are really, really addictive. (More on this below.)
  • The effects can come on much quicker than you expect, and leave you much more whacked than you thought.
  • It can cause short-term memory loss, so you essentially forget the whole experience.
  • If you’ve taken loads, the comedown may make you have panic attacks, or even fits.

How long do the effects last?

It depends on the strength of the dose, but effects usually last between three and six hours.

Are tranquillizers addictive?

Yes. So much that even doctors prescribing them legitimately won’t give them to you for more than a month – tops.

You quickly develop a tolerance and have to take more to get the same effect. They’re also psychologically addictive, as people enjoy the calm, serene feeling you get and want to hold onto it.

What’s withdrawal on tranquillizers like?

Once you’ve got going with a tranq habit, coming off them is about as much fun as a root canal done by a toddler. If you’ve been prescribed them, do NOT come off them without talking it through with your doctor, as they’ll probably want you to decrease your dose over time. Suddenly coming off them cold turkey can cause seizures, psychotic behaviour, and could even be fatal.

During withdrawal, common nasty effects include:

  • Mild to severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Sinking into a REALLY bad mood

Can you drink on tranquillizers?

It’s not a good idea. Both of them slow your body down, so combining the two can be dangerous.

Can you mix tranquillizers with other drugs?

Although they’re commonly used to take the edge off comedowns, we can’t recommend this as a good idea. Mixing any drugs isn’t great. It’s particularly dangerous to mix benzos with other depressants like heroin or alcohol.

Can you overdose on tranquillizers?

Yes, you can easily OD on tranqs – even a small extra amount can have a huge effect on you. If you feel you’re ODing, get medical help immediately.

How to reduce the risks when taking tranquillizers

  • If you’re using them recreationally, start with the absolute lowest dose of whatever you’re taking. The tablets may have the dosage printed on the packaging. (Be aware that the capsules are stronger.)
  • If you’ve taken some and don’t feel anything instantly, don’t take anymore straight away. It can take some people longer to feel the effects and you don’t want to OD.
  • Don’t drive or operate any heavy machinery when on them… yes, even the combine harvester.

Is it illegal to take tranquillizers?

If you’ve been prescribed them by a doctor, then it’s perfectly legal to take them.

However, if you don’t have a prescription they become a Class C drug. Possession could then get you a maximum of two years in jail, and it’s even more serious if you’re supplying them to others. For more information about being caught with drugs, read our article here.

Photo of tranquillizer pills by Dean

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


drugs a-z


Updated on 29-Sep-2015