Benzodiazepines belong to a group of central nervous system depressants called minor tranquilisers. They come as pills in a variety of colours and shapes, according to the brand.
The first benzodiazepine (chlordiazepoxide) was synthesised in 1954 in Austria. It was discovered by chance during research on chemical dyes, and found to be a very effective tranquiliser. It was marketed in 1959 under the brand name Librium.
Valium, which became a very popular drug, was released in 1963, and since then many other benzodiazepines have been developed.
Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.
Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues. There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.