- Facts on Benzodiazepines vs. Ambien
- What are Benzodiazepines? What is Ambien?
- What are the side effects of benzodiazepines and Ambien?
- Can I get addicted to benzodiazepines and Ambien?
- What is the dosage of benzodiazepines and Ambien?
- What drugs interact with benzodiazepines and Ambien?
- Are benzodiazepines and Ambien safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding?
Facts on Benzodiazepines vs. Ambien
- Benzodiazepines and Ambien (zolpidem) are used to treat insomnia.
- Benzodiazepines are also used to treat seizures, anxiety disorders, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, status epilepticus, premenstrual syndrome, and as sedation during surgery.
- Benzodiazepines are a drug class of central nervous system depressants that cause drowsiness. Ambien belongs to a different drug class called sedatives/hypnotics that have some similar characteristics to benzodiazepines.
- Common benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and clonazepam (Klonopin).
- Side effects of benzodiazepines and Ambien that are similar include drowsiness, confusion, and balance problems.
- Side effects of benzodiazepines that are different from Ambien include lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, memory problems, changes in appetite, constipation, weight gain, dry mouth, decreased sex drive, and fatigue.
- Side effects of Ambien that are different from benzodiazepines include headache, weakness, dizziness, "drugged" feeling, insomnia, diarrhea, depression, dry mouth, rash, euphoria, and visual changes. Ambien can also cause abnormal behavior or "complex sleep-related behaviors," which may include sleep-driving (driving with no memory of having done so).
- Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines or Ambien. Withdrawal symptoms for benzodiazepines may include difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremors, vomiting, palpitations, headache, muscle pain and stiffness, and perceptual changes. Withdrawal symptoms for Ambien include muscle cramps, sweats, shaking, and seizures.
What are Benzodiazepines? What is Ambien?
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that cause sedation (drowsiness) and are used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, seizures, muscle spasms, nervousness, sleeplessness, alcohol withdrawal, status epilepticus, premenstrual syndrome, and as sedation during surgery. Benzodiazepines may work by boosting the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neutrotransmitter in the brain. Anxiety, seizures, and other illnesses may be caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. GABA reduces this nerve activity in the brain.
Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative/hypnotic that shares some characteristics of a family of sedatives called benzodiazepines but Ambien has selectivity in that it has little of the muscle relaxant and anti-seizure effects and more of the sedative effect so it is used primarily as a medication for sleep.
What are the side effects of benzodiazepines and Ambien?
Common side effects include:
- Memory impairment
- Improper body balance
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Reduced libido
Serious side effects include:
- Respiratory depression
- Dependence and abuse
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Slow heart rate
- Severe low blood pressure
- Akathisia (a movement disorder)
- Increased heart rate
The most common side effects of zolpidem are:
- A "drugged" feeling, which probably reflect the action of the drug
Other side effects include:
Can I get addicted to benzodiazepines and Ambien?
Benzodiazepines or benzos are habit forming and you can become addicted to them - even if you take them as your doctor or health care professional has prescribed. People who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse are more likely to develop an addiction to these drugs. If you use these drugs over a long period of time you can develop a tolerance for them. This means that you will need higher doses of the drug to treat your health condition or disease because you've become tolerant of the weaker formulations of the drug. These drugs may be very effective for the treatment of several conditions, for example, anxiety and insomnia; but be careful because you can become addicted to them.
The street names for benzodiazepine drugs are "Benzos" and "Downers." Drug addicts abuse these drugs to get "high." They can cause addiction similar to opioids (narcotic drugs like oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl), cannabinoids (marijuana), and the club drug GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate).
They are commonly abused by young adolescents and young adults who crush it up and snort it, or take the tablet to get high. If you abuse this medication you may have adverse effects with symptoms include:
- Disturbing or vivid dreams
Signs and symptoms that you might be addicted include:
It is very difficult to recover from benzodiazepine addiction because these drugs change the chemistry of the brain. Contact a drug addiction treatment center if you or a loved one are suffering from a addiction. Quitting cold turkey is not likely to be successful and can be dangerous because of symptoms of withdrawal. Doctors and other health care professionals that treat addiction will formulate a taper schedule to slowly wean off the medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms during treatment.
Signs and symptoms of overdose include:
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms and signs
If you stop taking these medications abruptly you may experience withdrawal symptoms that include:
- Problems concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Increased anxiety and tension
- Panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Dry heaving and vomiting
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- A host of perceptual changes
The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on amount and duration of benzodiazepine use. Withdrawal symptoms can be deadly.
These medications are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule IV drugs. This means that they have a lower potential and risk of dependence than other more powerful drugs like codeine, testosterone, anabolic steroids, Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen), OxyContin (oxycodone), Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), and Ritalin (methylphenidate).
Zolpidem can cause withdrawal symptoms (muscle cramps, sweats, shaking, and seizures) when the drug is abruptly discontinued. Zolpidem can cause abnormal behavior with confusion, paradoxical insomnia or "complex sleep-related behaviors," which may include sleep-driving (driving with no memory of having done so). If these side effects occur, zolpidem should be discontinued.
What is the dosage of benzodiazepines and Ambien?
All oral benzodiazepines are available in tablet forms.
- Alprazolam and clorazepate are available as extended-release tablets.
- Alprazolam, clobazam, diazepam, and lorazepam are available in oral liquid form.
- Alprazolam and clonazepam are available in orally dissolving tablets.
- Chlordiazepoxide, oxazepam, and temazepam are available in capsule form.
- Diazepam also is available as a rectal gel.
Some benzodiazepines are available for injection.
- The recommended adult dose of zolpidem conventional tablets or spray is 5 mg for females, the elderly, or fragile individuals, and 5 to 10 mg for males.
- The maximum dose is 10 mg daily.
- For females and the elderly, give 6.25 mg of extended-release tablets; and males should receive 6.25 to 12.5 mg.
- The maximum dose of extended-release tablets is 12.5 mg daily.
- Elderly patients have decreased ability to eliminate zolpidem from the body, and accumulating zolpidem may cause side effects.
What drugs interact with benzodiazepines and Ambien?
Combining alcohol with a benzodiazepine is very dangerous. People who drink alcohol while taking this medicine will feel the effects of alcohol faster. It's not safe to drink alcohol or take other drugs that have similar effects on the central nervous system (CNS) at the same time because these drugs or substances interact with oral benzodiazepines by causing additional depression of the brain and respiratory depression. Respiratory depression can lead to breathing that's inadequate for supplying oxygen to the body. This can cause death. Examples of these drugs and products that increase sedative side effects or the risk of respiratory depression from benzodiazepines include:
- morphine (MScontin)
- fentanyl (Duragesic)
- oxycodone (Oxycontin)
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- acetaminophen/hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet)
Sedatives (for example, insomnia medicine) and other medicine that cause sedation, for example:
- zolpidem (Ambien, ZolpiMist)
- zaleplon (Sonata)
- eszopiclone (Lunesta
- many other drugs
- Alcohol has an additive effect with zolpidem and the two should not be combined. Zolpidem should not be combined with other sedative drugs because of the additive effects.
- Itraconazole (Sporanox) and ketoconazole (Nizoral, Extina, Xolegel, Kuric) may increase the blood concentration of zolpidem by reducing the activity of the enzymes that breakdown zolpidem in the liver. Conversely, rifampin may reduce the concentration of zolpidem by increasing the activity of the enzymes that breakdown zolpidem.
Are benzodiazepines and Ambien safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding?
- The FDA classifies benzodiazepines as pregnancy category D, which means that benzodiazepines can potentially cause fetal harm if administered to pregnant women. If benzodiazepines have to be used in pregnant women or if the patient may become pregnant while taking benzodiazepines, the patients must be informed of potential risks to the fetus.
- Benzodiazepines enter breast milk and can cause lethargy and weight loss in the newborn. Therefore, they should not be used in nursing mothers.
- There are no adequate studies of zolpidem use in pregnant women.
- Zolpidem is excreted in human breast milk and may adversely affect the infant.
Benzodiazepines and Ambien (zolpidem) are used to treat insomnia. Benzodiazepines are a drug class of central nervous system depressants that cause drowsiness. Ambien belongs to a different drug class called sedatives/hypnotics that have some similar characteristics to benzodiazepines. Side effects of benzodiazepines and Ambien that are similar include drowsiness, confusion, and balance problems.
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Second Source article from Government
Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep. Secondary insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. Treatment for insomnia include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication.
What Are the 7 More Dangerous Medicines to Mix?
Some drug interactions can have serious side effects, while others may be lethal. You should avoid dangerous drug mistakes like mixing alcohol and opioids, warfarin and acetaminophen and few others.
Insomnia Treatment (Sleep Aids and Stimulants)
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes, and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- zolpidem - oral, Ambien
- diazepam - injection, Valium
- Alprazolam (Xanax) vs. Temazepam (Restoril)
- What Drugs Are Used for Conscious Sedation?
- Hypnotics (for Sleep) Medications
- Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Ambien (zolpidem)
- Ativan (lorazepam) vs. Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax vs. Valium
- zolpidem (Ambien)
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top Benzodiazepines vs. Ambien Related Articles
Insomnia SlideshowWhat is insomnia? Insomnia by definition is trouble falling or staying asleep. Insomnia causes are varied. Learn 10 tips on how to get a good night's sleep and avoid sleep disorders such as insomnia.
20 Tips to Beat InsomniaGood sleep hygiene leads to better sleep. Avoid insomnia and sleep better by minimizing stress, exercising, and taking proper naps. Learn the health benefits of good sleep. Discover how pets, allergies, electronics, and other distractions can rob you of a good night's sleep.
Ativan (lorazepam) vs. Valium (diazepam)Ativan (lorazepam) and Valium (diazepam) are prescription drugs that belong do the drug class of benzodiazepines. Both Ativan and Valium are used to treat anxiety disorders, sedation prior to surgery, and prevention and treatment of symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Ativan also is used to treat insomnia, and to prevent nausea and vomiting as a result from chemotherapy. Valium also is used to treat seizures, and relief of muscle spasms in some neurological diseases. Side effects, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety comparison are provided.
Benzodiazepines (Benzodiazepine Drug Class)Benzodiazepine is the name of a class of drugs in the US. They belong to a class of man-made drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, seizures, muscle spasms, and insomnia. Lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), and diazepam (Valium) are examples of benzodiazepines.
Hypnotics (for Sleep)
Hypnotics are sleep medications used to treat different types of insomnia. There are a variety of hypnotic drugs, and they are grouped into five types. Benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, selective melatonin agonists (these three drug types are classified as sedatives), antidepressants, and an orexin receptor agonist. Some hypnotics can be addictive and may cause withdrawal symptoms if discontinued abruptly.
The side effects of hypnotics depend upon the drug used, but they may include:
- Dry mouth
- Rebound insomnia
Other side effects may include:
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Upset stomach
- Abnormal dreams
Hypnotics may have serious side effects and adverse effects, for example:
- Abnormal thinking
- Suicidal thinking
- Sleep paralysis
- Sleep driving and other complex behavior
- Exfoliate dermatitis
Hypnotic drugs available over-the-counter (OTC) include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom). Natural herbal supplements used for insomnia are melatonin and Valerian.
Do not drink alcohol while taking hypnotic drugs. Stimulants like caffeine or amphetamines reduce the effect of insomnia medications.
Your doctor or other health care professional will recommend the type of hypnotic drug for you depending upon the type of sleep problem you have, your current lifestyle habits, other medications you are taking, and any other medical problems you may have.
FDA. "Sleep Disorder (Sedative-Hypnotic) Drug Information." Updated: Jun 13, 2017.
Chawala, J, MD. "Insomnia Medication." Medscape. Updated: Aug 01, 2016.
InsomniaInsomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep. Secondary insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. Treatment for insomnia include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication.
Suffer From Insomnia QuizInsomnia affects all age groups, and is the most common sleep disorder in the world. There also seems to be a link between depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Learn more about insomnia with this quiz.
Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Ambien (zolpidem)Klonopin (clonazepam) and Ambien (zolpidem) are used to treat insomnia. Clonazepam is primarily used for treating panic disorder and preventing certain types of seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms. Clonazepam and Ambien belong to different drug classes. Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine class anti-anxiety medication and Ambien is a sedative/hypnotic.
Insomnia Treatment (Sleep Aids and Stimulants)
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
Sleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and MoreLearn about the different types of sleep/wake disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea. Explore the symptoms, causes, tests and treatments of sleep disorders.
What Are the 7 More Dangerous Medicines to Mix?Some drug interactions can have serious side effects, while others may be lethal. You should avoid dangerous drug mistakes like mixing alcohol and opioids, warfarin and acetaminophen and few others.
Xanax vs. ValiumXanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Valium is also used for the treatment of agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations resulting from alcohol withdrawal. It is also used for the treatment of seizures, relief of muscle spasms in some neurological diseases, and for sedation during surgery. Side effects of both include drowsiness, fatigue, and speech problems.
Zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, Zolpimist, Edluar, [Tovalt ODT has been discontinued]) is a sedative medication prescribed for the treatment of insomnia. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.