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Xanax pills Benzodiazepines are a class of tranquilizing pharmaceuticals, including Xanax, Valium and Klonopin, which depress the central nervous system to treat anxiety, insomnia and certain types of seizures. (Photo: Shutterstock)

While America wrestles with its opioid crisis, another closely linked epidemic remains largely under the radar. It involves benzodiazepines (known as benzos), a class of tranquilizing pharmaceuticals, including Xanax, Valium and Klonopin, which depress the central nervous system to treat anxiety, insomnia and certain types of seizures and convulsions. These drugs decrease brain activity to reduce feelings of anxiety or induce sleep. They are designed to help patients overcome everything from panic disorders and public speaking nerves, to severe insomnia and fear of flying.

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