How did the use of benzodiazepines start?
Benzodiazepines have had a number of predecessors. In the past, alcohol, opium and herbs were used as nightcaps or to numb pain. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new drug was made in laboratories: barbital, a so-called bariburate.
Over the years, barbiturates have been shown to be very dangerous (highly addictive and high risk of fatal overdose). Benzodiazepines proved to be less dangerous and have almost completely replaced the barbiturates.
Benzodiazepines have been used since 1960 in patients with anxiety and sleep complaints. The first benzodiazepine, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), was discovered by the Austrian Leo Sternbach. Shortly afterwards in 1963, diazepam (Valium) was developed, a drug that is still widely used in medicine today.
But the benzodiazepines were also found to cause addiction problems. Especially the fast-acting benzodiazepines are also used in the illegal drug world because of the intoxicating effect they can cause.