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Barbiturates vs. Benzodiazepines

Barbiturates vs. Benzodiazepines

Why a person develops an addiction is a personal and sensitive experience. Some feel the need to wake themselves up to the obligations around them and depend on stimulants. Others may crave a feeling of escape when it all becomes too much. Two drugs most infamous for producing this kind of effect are known as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They are similar in effect, with one introduced as a less alternative solution to the other. Banyan takes a closer look at the relationship between barbiturates vs. benzodiazepines.  

Effects of Barbiturates

Barbiturates are drugs known for their sedative effects, performing as a central nervous system depressant. Peaking in popularity right around the Great Depression, it was revered for its calming properties in the realm of sleep control, hypnosis, and seizure management. It works by affecting the GABA in the brain, or gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter, producing depression in the central nervous system. Today, barbiturates are rarely used but can still be helpful in cases of anesthesia, seizures, and even euthanasia or capital punishment. 

Barbiturates Side Effects

The strength that this drug is capable of has also been recorded to produce several side effects, including: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Skin irritation 
  • Coma 
  • Fainting 
  • Hallucinations 

Abuse of Barbiturates 

The popularity of the drug lasted until the 1970s, when it grew a reputation as a recreational substance. People abused its sedating properties to lower anxiety, minimize inhibitions, and manage side effects from other prominent illegal drugs. Many users elected to ingest it with alcohol to intensify the experience, a dangerous step in the direction of addiction and overdose. 

An infamous example of its damaging effects was the death of Marilyn Monroe. This event marked a turning point in public perception of the popular substance, leading to the conception of a less dangerous alternative: benzodiazepines. 

Effects of Benzodiazepines

Popularly dubbed as benzos, psychiatrists sought out a drug with similar sedating effects to the popular barbiturates while reducing the common risk of addiction and overdose. They are only available by a doctor’s prescription, leading abusers of the drug to visit multiple physicians with the intention of forging prescriptions.   

Examples of popular benzo brands include Valium, Xanax, and Librium. By inhibiting GABA neurotransmitters, they essentially cause feelings of relaxation through repression of the brain, though to a much lesser extent than barbiturates.  

Benzodiazepine Abuse

Similar to its predecessor, frequent users will develop a tolerance for the substance, requiring more at once to produce the same effect. It is commonly abused amongst young adults that were initially prescribed the substance and decided to take the continuation of their treatment into their own hands. They’re currently recognized as Schedule IV drugs and are controlled substances. Abuse of this drug is especially dangerous in large quantities.  

Benzodiazepine Overdose Symptoms

  • Intense drowsiness 
  • Visible confusion 
  • Respiratory depression 
  • Faulty coordination 
  • Slowed reflexes 

An overdose of sedatives can be deadly. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse issue and need to take the first step to recovery, our Banyan drug rehab provides excellent detox services.  

You’re Not Alone

In the realm of barbiturates vs. benzodiazepines, the reduced intensity of the latter’s effects should do nothing to distract from its risks. Almost any substance can present the possibility of addiction, and the cycle of abuse can feel extremely isolating. Our Banyan addiction treatment centers offer programs specialized in the experiences of benzo abuse. 

Call our Banyan addiction facilities at 888-280-4763 for more information. 



Related Readings: 

Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepines 

How Long Benzos Stay In Your System 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Barbiturates vs. Benzodiazepines
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