Sedatives are among the oldest agents used for reducing anxiety. Many other psychoactive chemicals can also reduce anxiety. A newer class, called the benzodiazepines, has become the most widely prescribed group of antianxiety psychoactive chemicals. Unfortunately, some psychoactive chemicals of this class have an abuse potential. This section describes the effects of benzodiazepines, both positive and negative.
Benzodiazepines and Sedative
How are “benzos” different from sedatives
The benzodiazepines (sedatives) are very important psychoactive chemicals. Benzodiazepines have become synonymous with “tranquilizers” because of their usefulness in reducing anxiety. Their general effects are similar to those of the sedatives, but subtle yet important differences have led to their widespread use; these are discussed in this section. They have essentially replaced sedatives as antianxiety agents, and some members of the benzodiazepine class have even been used successfully as sleeping pills.
These psychoactive chemicals have become popular because, unlike the sedatives which are general depressants and produce considerable drowsiness, Benzodiazepines are much more specific for anxiety. This means that Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety with fewer of the typical side effects of sedation and impaired coordination. They are also preferred over sedatives because they have a much greater margin of safety. Twenty or thirty 100-mg capsules of Seconal or Nembutal can be fatal if taken in a single dose. Benzodiazepines are rarely fatal even if taken in very large doses, but they can be dangerous if taken in combination with sedatives such as alcohol or with narcotics. In addition, benzodiazepines retain their major effect (reduction of anxiety) for a much longer time than any other psychoactive chemical class used for similar purposes, such as the sedatives. Thus, they can be useful for individuals with chronic anxiety or insomnia. For all these reasons, the medical profession has shifted away from sedatives and toward benzodiazepines for reduction of anxiety and induction of sleep.
About 20 different Benzodiazepines are approved for use in the United States. These psychoactive chemicals have similar main effects and differ primarily in their speed of onset and length of action.
More information about drugs.
In addition to the previous information, we have provided the following pages to be of help to you about Benzodiazepines:
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