Doctors prescribe these drugs for a number of perfectly legitimate medical reasons—including treatment for anxiety disorders, insomnia and sleeplessness, alcohol withdrawal and seizure control. Benzos can offer muscle relaxation for those with acute pain, and in some cases are used as anesthesia before surgery.
These drugs are active on the nervous system, lowering anxieties and muscle tension and ultimately providing a feeling of sedation.
Yet these drugs are also commonly abused. This is partly because they are so widely available and so easy to obtain. Benzos rarely lead to death all on their own but can be lethal when mixed with alcohol; they do yield some severe symptoms, including drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, impaired coordination, and—in some cases—even coma. They can lead to intense physical dependence; withdrawal from benzos can be painful and challenging.