"Those taking benzodiazepines may show 'paradoxical behavioural responses
such as increased aggression and hostility, uncharacteristic petty criminal activities such as shoplifting, sexual improprieties or offences such
as importuning or self-exposure, and excessive emotional responses such as
uncontrollable weeping or giggling."
Professor Malcolm Lader
Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Madsley Hospital.
(C) Drug Notes, ISDD, 1993
Aggression and violent behaviour:
induced by prescribed benzodiazepine use
is well documented and widely reported.
Crime and benzodiazepines: Reports of a link between
Benzodiazepines and crime are growing. Reports from drug misuse
agencies of BDZs used specifically when committing crimes are described as
"cloak of invisibility" or similar. due to their behavioural effects.
34% of arrestees tested positive for benzodiazepines:
A recent ADAM(Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring),pilot study monitoring
drug use in arrestees
in the Strathclyde and Fife
areas of Scotland revealed high levels of BDZ use(33%), second only
to cannabis (52%). Alcohol:(32%), opiates: (31%) and methadone:(12%)
Prisons report increased aggression:
81% of inmates involved in aggressive incidents had taken diazepam (Valium) and 3.6 times
as many acts of aggression occurred in inmates while on these drugs.
A high level of riots, stabbings, cuttings,
murders, self mutilation attempted suicide were attributed, at least in part to high
consumption of BDZs in a Utah State prison.
1995,Australia (New South Wales)
Restriction of clonazepam(a BDZ) prescription was implemented by the Corrections
Health Service of New South Wales due to it causing emotionally reactive and
aggressive behaviour with self-harm and suicide attempts in inmates.
1995, UK (Parkhurst).
Tranqilliser prescription (mostly BDZs) was reduced
from 3.5 Kgs PA in 1990/91, to 0.15 Kgs in 1994/95, correspondingly physical assaults
by inmates on another person reduced from 5 in 1990 to 0 in 1995.
"Professor Michael Rawlins said that he believed the tragedy
[murder] was probably precipitated by the excessive amount (30mg)
of diazepam which the defendant had consumed in the preceding
twelve-hour period before her husband's death"
The Law Society Gazette, 22 July, 1987.
B.N.F: "A paradoxical increase in hostility and
aggression may be reported by
patients taking benzodiazepines. The effects range from talkativeness and
excitement, to aggressive and antisocial acts."
British National Formulary, 2001.
"The implications of the combination of anti-anxiety agents and
aggressiveness are astounding."
D.G. Cunningham, D.G.Workman.
Canadian Family Physician, Nov. 1975.
"Paradoxical aggressive outbursts are a
recognised adverse effect of diazepam; they are probably caused
by the suppression of mechanisms which normally inhibit
Professor Michael Rawlins,
medical expert in court, 1980.
" Aggressive behaviour towards self and others may be precipitated".
ABPI Data sheet re: Diazepam, 1991.