A Complete List Of Short-Acting Benzodiazepines

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022

Benzodiazepine drugs are classified as short-acting, intermediate-acting, or long-acting based on their duration of action. Short-acting benzodiazepines (“benzos”) have a quick onset of effects and leave the body faster.

Short-Acting Benzodiazepines

Although benzodiazepines (benzos) are similar in their effects, they differ in how fast they begin working, how long they continue to work, and how long they remain in a person’s system.

For this reason, benzodiazepines are grouped into three categories: short-acting benzodiazepines, intermediate-acting benzodiazepines, and long-acting benzodiazepines.

Find out more about benzodiazepine addiction

Short-acting and intermediate-acting benzodiazepines include:

What Does It Mean For A Benzodiazepine To Be Short-Acting?

Short-acting drugs have a fairly short half-life, meaning they pass through the body quickly.

In healthy adults, the half-life of short-acting benzodiazepines (“benzos”) ranges between six to 29 hours, depending on the type of benzodiazepine, the formulation, and the dose taken.

Onset Of Effects

Some short-acting benzos, and long-acting benzodiazepines, have a quick onset of effects, meaning the effects of the drug can be felt pretty quickly after use.

Get Started On The Road To Recovery.

Get Confidential Help 24/7. Call Today!

(844) 616-3400

How Long Effects Last

The duration of effects with short-acting drugs is shorter than that of long-acting drugs like diazepam (Valium) or clonazepam (Klonopin).

Frequency Of Use

Unlike long-acting drugs, which work in phases over the course of one or more days, short-acting drugs may need to be taken more often to feel the desired effect.

Not all short-acting drugs work the same, however. Short-acting drugs can vary in their duration of effects, the forms they come in, and the main uses for which they’re prescribed.

What Are Short-Acting Benzodiazepines Used For?

Short-acting benzodiazepines are prescribed for a variety of uses. Due to their quick onset of effects, they can be effective for treating panic attacks, seizures, and insomnia.

Other uses for short-acting benzodiazepines include:

  • anesthesia (e.g. midazolam)
  • anxiety disorders
  • panic disorder

The main use of short-acting benzos like triazolam (Halcion) is insomnia. Intermediate- and long-acting benzodiazepines are preferred for treating anxiety and panic disorders.

How Short-Acting Benzodiazepines Can Be Misused

Short-acting benzodiazepine drugs, like any prescription drug, are potential drugs of abuse.

According to the American Family Physician, short-acting benzodiazepines are sometimes preferred for misuse due to their rapid effects.

Common methods of abuse include:

  • crushing and snorting tablets
  • taking higher doses than directed
  • taking doses more often
  • mixing benzos with other drugs to enhance or counteract effects

Benzodiazepine misuse can lead to the faster development of drug tolerance, physical dependence, and drug addiction.

Mixed with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids, they can also cause overdose, a potentially fatal condition that can slow a person’s breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Finding Treatment For Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine abuse can very rapidly lead to physical dependence and addiction, if taken in ways other than directed by a doctor.

If you or a loved one are struggling with benzodiazepine abuse, call our helpline today to find treatment options for benzodiazepine addiction at a rehab center near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

  • Was this Helpful?
  • YesNo
Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (844) 616-3400