Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that have sedative (sleep inducing), anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, and muscle relaxing properties. Valium and Xanax are common brand names in this drug class. Benzodiazepines are widely used medications in psychiatry prescribed for many different conditions. They are commonly used to treat short term anxiety issues. Many patients take benzodiazepines before surgical procedures to help with nervousness. Benzodiazepines can also be prescribed to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, insomnia, and muscle spasms.