There have been a number of samples of benzodiazepine tablets submitted to the drug testing service WEDINOS found to contain a benzodiazepine type drug called Bromazolam. The results from WEDINOS and drugs tested in Scotland suggest that Bromazolam is circulating in the drug supply in Scotland including a number of samples submitted from Edinburgh.
What is Bromazolam?
Bromazolam is a synthetic benzodiazepine drug which was first synthesised in the 1970s but was never marketed as a pharmaceutical product. It was first detected in the international drug market in 2016 with levels of detection increasing since 2022. It is most similar to Xanax in effect with hypnotic (sedative) and anxiolytic (relief of anxiety) properties.
Image – page 5 of Crew Benzodiazepines booklet
What do we need to know?
The effects of Bromazolam will be similar to many benzodiazepine type drugs which you can read about in our Drugs A-Z and our in depth benzodiazepine booklet.
Benzo pills which have not been prescribed and are from the ‘street’ or illicit market made in unregulated labs. Many of them may imitate genuine prescription pills and come with packaging that looks real. It is likely that the majority of tablets that have not been prescribed do not contain the expected drugs such as Valium (diazepam) or Xanax (alprazolam) and could contain one or more of a variety of new benzo-type drugs. These drugs are normally ones which are not available as medicines and ones we know little about in terms of risk, dosage and the effects of long term use. Bromazolam is just one example of a new benzo type drug which may be sold in Scotland as a benzo tablet and is the one which has been found most commonly in tablets circulating in Scotland that have been tested in the last 6 months. People taking street benzos should be aware that the contents of tablets can vary, even within the same batch and may produce different effects/risks with each tablet.
What we do know is that often these newer drugs are more potent meaning that less of the drug is needed for the effects to be felt and that it is possible to overdose from much smaller amounts. They may also take longer for the effects to come on and might feel different to other benzos that are available (e.g. might not give the same relaxing (relief of anxiety) or sedative effects).
Image – page 12 of Crew Benzodiazepines booklet
We do not have accurate dosage information for Bromazolam but information retrieved from Tripsit.me indicates that many people have found the following doses and onset time:
|Light||0.5-1 milligrams||2.5-5 milligrams|
|Common||1-2 milligrams||5-15 milligrams|
|Heavy||2-4 milligrams||15-30 milligrams|
|Onset time||15-45 minutes||15-40 minutes|
How can we reduce the risk?
If you choose to take benzodiazepines then the following steps can help to reduce harm.
- Access drug testing if possible to find out more about the contents of the tablets you have
- Start with a low dose (e.g. a quarter of a tablet) and wait for at least 45 minutes (ideally 2 hours) before taking more of a tablet
- Avoid mixing with other drugs – including alcohol and medicines
- Downers include opioids (like heroin) and depressants (such as benzos and alcohol). These types of drugs depress the central nervous system which means they slow down heart rate and breathing. Mixing benzodiazepines with other downers, including other benzodiazepines, is extremely dangerous and increases the risk of respiratory depression and death
- Naloxone will not reverse a benzodiazepine only-overdose but it should be given to anyone who is non-responsive and displaying the sign of an overdose. If you are unsure if the person has taken opioids, always use naloxone as this will not cause any harm. If they do have opioids in their system amongst other drugs, reversing the effects may be enough to bring that person round
- Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you see the signs of an overdose: confusion, unconsciousness (won’t wake with a shout or a shake), severe nausea and vomiting, fitting, difficulty breathing, snoring/raspy breathing, blue/pale tingeing of knees, hands and lips, slow or erratic pulse (heartbeat), pale, cold and clammy skin
- Avoid taking benzos alone and stay with friends in case you experience negative effects
- Try to sleep on your side if you have been taking benzos. This will help to keep your airway clear
- Share this information with people you know so that they can keep themselves safe. If you have information about the Scottish drug market that would be useful to share you can update the RADAR network – read more here.