What are Benzodiazepines Like? The Subjective Experience

What are Benzos? Xanax Bars, Ativan, Klonopin, and More Benzo Drugs

For those not familiar with the term “benzodiazepine,” it represents a class of anti-anxiety drugs which includes Xanax bars, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc. While these substances are trending, particularly in the youth, I consider medications from this class the most dangerous mind-altering substances if abused. It amazes me how benzo drugs are abused with such impunity. It amazes me that they’re trending. It also amazes me how the general public lacks quality education regarding the dangers of abusing these substances. Society demonizes Meth, heroin, and crack. If I told a random person I had a problem with smoking crack, I would instantly be ostracized by that person due to the negative stigma surrounding the drug. If I were to tell the same person I struggle with abusing Xanax bars, the problem wouldn’t likely lead to the person gasping and looking at me as if I suffered from leprosy. What’s crazy about this is benzodiazepines are just as dangerous as the drugs mentioned above. In fact, based on genetic predisposition they can be more dangerous than any drug out there.

One night I took a Xanax bar which contains 2mg of the active ingredient, alprazolam. This dose is four times higher than the commonly prescribed 0.5mg. Nothing happened. About a week later I told my brother I wanted to try Xanax bars. He looked at me and exclaimed, “don’t ever do that crap again!” Apparently, the drug did work. I just had no recollection of it at all. As soon as the alprazolam made its way across the blood-brain barrier, I was in a full-on blackout. My brother told me I had a hard time walking. He had to hide me from my mother. I was drooling and repeating over-and-over, “I love Xanax.” I had no recollection of even feeling the buzz as it started to kick in. I thought I went to bed and the drug didn’t work, I was wrong.

what are benzos

The next time I got ahold of Xanax I was aware of this and decided to take 1.5mg. I was conscious throughout the experience. At first, I felt all of the relaxation effects of alcohol without any of the dizziness. I also didn’t feel as foggy. In fact, I felt more clear-headed than I did when I was sober. It had a stronger anxiolytic effect, all anxieties dissipated entirely and that was the source of euphoria from the drug. I wasn’t worried about the future. I was living in the moment. I was free. I felt so little anxiety I could have been facing a near-death experience, while I was still going to be worried since I was conscious, I wouldn’t have any fear facing the edge of death.

The problem is that was a majority of the high from benzo drugs, lack of fear. Sure there was a nice euphoric buzz, but that buzz was mild in comparison to other substances I had taken. As a result of the subtle buzz and lack of anxiety, I would want to make the buzz stronger. My inhibitions were so lowered by benzo drugs that I didn’t need to rationalize taking more pills. I didn’t have any worry about how much I was consuming or how I would deplete my stash. If I didn’t re-dose with more of the drug, I wasn’t “high” enough to justify staying awake when all my body wanted to do was sleep. Sub-blackout doses of Xanax bars would lead me to my bed where I’d lay there considering all the hype around the drug and think to myself, “this is just an overly-glorified sleeping pill.”

If I had enough pills to take more, I always did. Since I consistently blacked out to wake up not remembering the experience at all, I would wake up to the realization that I had taken 20 Xanax bars only remembering having had popped two. I remembered starting to use the drug and the peak of the high right before I blacked out, but after that, it was as if I went to bed right after the peak. I didn’t go to bed. Instead, people around me would tell me horror stories of what I did the day or night before. I wasn’t myself.

I prided myself on the fact that I never drove drunk in my life. I’ve operated my car on hallucinogens, ecstasy, meth, and many other compounds and that was ok – the mind of an addict. But never would I operate a motor vehicle drunk or on downers in general. It was a principle that allowed me to retain an insignificant source of ego in a place where I was full of shame and regret. I never drove while conscious on benzo drugs, where I had a choice in the matter, but when I blacked out, I drove every time as if my willpower to retain my principles disintegrated. I never remember a black-out so I can’t say what goes through my mind, but it’s as if the car is screaming, “Go somewhere, Philip!” One time my brother was in the car with me when I was in a black-out. He says I was barely able to drive. I was swerving all over the road, speaking incoherently, as he had to pry my fingers from the steering wheel before I killed someone. Considering the vast amounts of times, I abused benzodiazepines. It’s astonishing that I had never hurt someone or ended up convicted with a DUI charge.


Downers were never my thing. They were a useful escape. If they were there, I’d take them even though I preferred the manic episodes triggered by stimulants. Of the various downers I’ve abused, I can see how they’d be very psychologically addictive to people who seek relaxation from using substances. Benzo drugs come wrapped in a pretty package, a pill that takes all fear away. All anxiety is cleared out of your system so fast, and at such a high intensity you forget how you ever were anxious about anything. Your muscles relax as you sink into a bed gazing at the ceiling with thoughts and a buzz that sooth your core as if warm water trickles down a cold soul.

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  1. StevieJoFraser

    This would read well as a section/mini chapter in a book/bio/collection of tales.

  2. staroula

    I decided to go to the psychiatrist today to prescribe me xanax
    I’m struggling with depression many years now.
    And so far I’ve never taken anything.
    I dont like the idea of me taking antidepressants.
    I won’t abuse xanax

  3. chris802

    i mainly struggle with alcohol abuse but i did klonopin one time and i took way too much. i took a bad fall and jacked up my knee, and when i told my (much more experienced, fresh out of rehab) friend about it he told me that i took a dangerous amount for my body size and lack of tolerance. i had little to no knowledge about benzos at the time, so i’m glad this site/app exists now so people like me can learn.

  4. jmunoz

    Wow…well written description up top. I was never really scared to experiment with any illegal substance except for opioids. I remember taking xanax many, many, years ago. Yeah, the relaxation that takes over was heaven sent. You know, someone like me is full of anxiety and self doubt, among a bunch of other things. It all melted away almost instantly. I used to drink and do pot to feel less anxious and to feel good, or as good a someone with serious self loathing can feel about themselves. But once I tried combining the xanax with beer or scotch…well it was over! Man, I didn’t have to waste so much time drinking anymore. This magical little pill got me there faster than I ever thought possible. It got to the point that I was spending crazy money to score bars off the street. I got them prescribed as well but the damn .50 or .25 lasted me like one or two days. I’m talking about a months supply in two days!!! I had very similar experiences as the ones you described. I’d remember taking a couple of bars and then looking for the rest of the stash in the morning to no avail. So there’d I’d go calling my connect again. Oh the stupidity that ensued on my binges. I wouldn’t even let my friends tell the what I had done. I’d just take more and drink off my hangover. I’ve been sober for just over two years now and have no intentions on going back. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your Youtube channel which then led me here. This is truly a great thing your embarking on. You’re doing good work bro. Thanks for giving us all a voice and a place we can connect with others who are like us.

  5. Bulldawg81

    First, thanks Big Cg for putting yourself out there, but also the well researched information on each drugs affect on addicts. I’m older than most of you, but I mention that only to define my struggles with addiction, my failures, recovery and relapse. I started drinking beer until I would blackout at 12 years Old. I graduated to bourbon when I was 14-15. This is humorous, so I will mention it to prevent this from starting out so dark. I grew up in a “dry” Bible Belt county which meant that in junior school and high school we would had to pay someone to drive 25 milestone the next county to buy ourbooze. My friends andI would pool our money and by this Rock gut bourbon by the gallon called Old Rocking Chair. Before we all graduated high school, we started smoking copious amounts of weed. When I graduated and went to UGA I started doing psychedelic drugs, as well as drinking alcohol and smoking pot. I was fortunate to make good grades, so my parents, brothers and friends overlooked my addiction. After three years, I entered law school, graduated in the top of my class and got a job with a large law firm in Atlanta in 1985. I met my wife and was able to hide my addiction not only from my partners in the law firm, but from my wife and family. After about 15 years of living a lie, I was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression, anxiety and other shit. The psychiatrist I saw prescribed 90Xanax bars a month, “as needed.” Other partners in my firm suggested that I go see this particular Dr to get the Xanax, and many of them had been on benzo for years. My psychiatrist then prescribed 90 Adderall to take 3 timesa day to off set the affect of the Xanax. No mention of any restrictions about mixing alcohol and the Xanax. At first, I would not take any for days, then when I had a stressful day ahead I would take one in the AM and stick 2 in my suit pocket, just in case. At one point After a year, and a lot of research, I tried to quit the Xanax cold turkey. After 3 days, my wife took me to the emergency room and I was hospitalized for three weeks, then sent to a rehab hospital for 90 days. When I was released the doctors had prescribed 1 mg of Klonipin, “ as needed.” It was prescribed asa saferbenzo. I thought I could drink alcohol socially on the Klonopin, but quickly found myself back in the hospital on a respirator. I had lost 55lbs in 90 days. I believed I was functioning addict—I was doing well in my lawpractice and thought I was doing well as a husband and father. I Would like to tell you that I have been sober now for 10 years., but I continue to drink alcohol—my drug of choice. My point is to tell anyone that is on a benzo to get off of them as quickly as possible, but don’t try to stop cold turkey. Do it under supervised physicians knowledgeable about how to reduce the titration over time, be patient and don’t drink any alcohol while your taking anybenzos. Work on developing your faith, trusting a higher power and know that you can recover from this horrible class of anti anxieties meds. Research and read everything you can find on not only benzodiazepines, but using them with antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, Exercise, meditation, prayer and yogi are all very helpful. Finally, be very careful about your psychiatrist or physician with whom you entrust your plan to reduce your dependence on the benzodiazepines. Make it clear that you want to safely reduce your use toward the goal of completely eliminating your use of this class of anti anxiety medications. I have learned to accept anxiety as a natural mood swing and know that it can develop in to a full blown panic attack or melt down, but there are ways to cope with anxiety such as conscious breathing techniques, which are effective. I hope that I have not been too verbose, but I sympathize with you and want to offer you encouragement that you can pursue other alternatives that Xanax and otherbenzos. My best to you my brothers and sisters. Love to all.

  6. Hasher McBudz

    I was prescribed 2mg Klonopin 2x as needed.
    Well obviously I have anxiety sooooo it’s always needed.
    Boy I still regret that choice!
    My doctor got a letter about the Epidemic, got scared and cut me off.
    The next day I felt death, worse than a 20mg buprenorphine withdrawl.
    I had vertigo and brain shocks, tremors, and finally the big finisher.
    And full on seizure.
    I woke up and called 911, and went into another seizure calling, and almost had one on the way to the hospital.
    It gave me PTSD, probably forever, but that’s life, we live we learn.

    I hope someone sees this and puts benzos on the blacklist.
    Rarely do people actually NEED them!
    Avoid at all cost!