Tranquilizers are used primarily to reduce anxiety and tension. They slow down the central nervous system. Most "minor" tranquilizers, including well-known trade names such as Valium and Librium, are usually taken orally as tablets, capsules, or liquids. Occasionally they are injected for both medical and non-medical purposes.

Physical and Psychological Effects

Tolerance and physical and psychological dependence can develop with long-term use. With the normal dosage an individual usually feels relaxed, has a sense of well-being, and may lose their inhibitions. As the dosage increases, the individual feels more sedated and may have a sense of floating. With regular use, tolerance can develop. The user then needs to take increased doses to get the desired effect.

While many people take tranquilizers for legitimate medical purposes, the concern is about the person who uses tranquilizers to cope with routine stress on a daily basis. In this case, the greatest danger of dependence is a strong physical addiction.

Physical Risks

Social Risks

Mental Health and Behavior Risks

Legal Risks

Most minor tranquilizers fall into Class IV of the Controlled Substances Act. The more powerful sedative-hypnotics are in Class III. Harsh penalties are applied for trafficking and illegal use of tranquilizers.