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There is no known illicit manufacture of benzodiazepines.
The benzodiazepines which circulate on the illicit market are diverted from legitimate clients either by over-prescription, that is to say individuals selling on part, or all, of their legitimately prescribed drugs, or by theft from pharmacies, hospitals or retailers.
Doctors now recommend that patients should not be on benzodiazepines for longer than four weeks as the drugs can become addictive and tolerance can develop so that increasing amounts are needed to get the same effect.
It is estimated that around 40% of people taking these drugs for more than 6 weeks will become addicted.
Valium is the most widely used benzodiazepine in the UK.The maximum sentence for supplying to someone else and for production is fourteen years and a fine.In practice maximum sentences are rarely used, for more information please see the sentencing page on the Release website.Prevalence of recreational use According to a study from November 2014 published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, of 1500 respondents 7.7% ( = 116) had misused one or more benzodiazepines.Almost 15% of those misusing at least one of these drugs did so once weekly or more often.
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Many people find it very difficult to give up tranquillisers and may need a gradually reduced dosage to do so. Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is often used in helping sleep disorders. This is due to its use being implicated in sex crimes where a victim’s drink is spiked with the drug, making them very drowsy or knocking them out so they’re either unaware of or unable to prevent a sexual assault.