- Prescription Drug Abuse Slideshow: Facts and Statistics
- OTC and Prescription Drug Abuse Slideshow Pictures
- Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse Slideshow Pictures
- Facts on benzodiazepines vs. narcotics (opioids)
- What are benzodiazepines? What are narcotics (opioids)?
- What are the side effects of benzodiazepines and opioids?
- What drugs interact with benzodiazepines and opioids?
- Can I get addicted to benzodiazepines and opioids?
- What are the different types of benzodiazepines and opioids?
- Are benzodiazepines and opioids safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Facts on benzodiazepines vs. narcotics (opioids)
- Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that cause drowsiness and are used to treat insomnia, seizures, anxiety disorders, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, status epilepticus, premenstrual syndrome, and as sedation during surgery.
- Narcotic (opioid) analgesics are used to treat moderate to severe pain.
- Both benzodiazepines and narcotics (opioids) are common drugs of abuse.
- Common benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and clonazepam (Klonopin).
- Common prescription narcotics (opioids) include codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone), hydrocodone (Zohydro ER), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo), morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, MS Contin), fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic), and methadone.
- Side effects of benzodiazepines and narcotics (opioids) that are similar include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, constipation, and dry mouth.
- Side effects of benzodiazepines that are different from narcotics (opioids) include lightheadedness, confusion, memory problems, balance problems, changes in appetite, weight gain, decreased sex drive, and fatigue.
- Side effects of narcotics (opioids) that are different from benzodiazepines include dizziness, itching, addiction, abdominal pain, and headache.
- Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines or narcotics (opioids). 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 narcotics (opioids) may include muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, uncontrollable leg movements, and severe cravings.
What are benzodiazepines? What are narcotics (opioids)?
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that cause sedation and are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, muscle spasms, insomnia, nervousness, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, premenstrual syndrome, status epilepticus, and as sedation during surgery. Benzodiazepines are believed to work by increasing the effects of a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA reduces the activity of nerves in the brain that may cause seizures, anxiety, and other conditions.
Narcotic (opioid) analgesics are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Narcotics attach to receptors on nerves in the brain that increase the threshold to pain and reduce the perception of pain. Most people take narcotics for short-periods of time until pain lessens or goes away. Chronic pain requires a pain management plan since long-term use of opioids can lead to drug addiction and tolerance. Narcotics (opioids) have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion.
Quick GuideAddicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
What are the side effects of benzodiazepines and opioids?
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
Common side effects of narcotic analgesics include:
Severe side effects of narcotic analgesics include:
What drugs interact with benzodiazepines and opioids?
Is it OK to drink alcohol or take similar drugs to benzodiazepines together (drug interactions)?
No. 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:
Pain medications called opioids that also cause respiratory depression, for example:
- morphine (MScontin)
- fentanyl (Duragesic)
- oxycodone (Oxycontin)
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- acetaminophen/hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet)
- zolpidem (Ambien, ZolpiMist)
- zaleplon (Sonata)
- eszopiclone (Lunesta
- many other drugs
What drugs interact with narcotic pain medications (opioids, analgesics)?
- phenelzine (Nardil),
- selegiline (Zelapar, Emsam, and Eldepryl),
- tranylcypromine (Parnate),
- procarbazine (Matulane),
- rasagiline (Azilect) and
- isocarboxazid (Marplan).
Therefore, the discontinuation and initiation of narcotic analgesics and MAO inhibitors should be separated by at least 14 days.
Narcotic analgesics should be used with caution with central nervous system depressant medications such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata) and alcohol because of increased risks of respiratory depression, low blood pressure, sedation, and in severe cases, coma and death.
Narcotic analgesics should be used with caution with medications that alter liver enzymes that affect the elimination of narcotic analgesics because levels of narcotic analgesics can increase or decrease in the body and thereby affect their therapeutic effectiveness.
Can I get addicted to benzodiazepines and opioids?
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:
- Problems sleeping
- Goose bumps
- Uncontrollable leg movements
- Bone and muscle pain
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:
- Clammy skin
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid and weak pulse
- Shallow breathing
Most men and women take narcotic analgesics for short-periods of time until pain lessens or goes away. Some adults have chronic pain, which requires proper pain management since long term use can lead to drug addiction and tolerance (the need for increasing doses). Narcotic analgesics have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion (to addicted persons).
The CDC developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings in 2016.
Drug addiction puts its sufferers at risk for potentially devastating social, occupational, and medical complications. Effects of chemical dependency on families include increased risk of domestic violence. Individuals with drug use disorder are also much less likely to find and keep a job compared to people who are not drug addicted. Children of parents with a substance use disorder are at higher risk for impaired social, educational, and health functioning, as well as being at higher risk for using drugs themselves.
In addition to the many devastating social and occupational complications of drug addiction, there are many potential medical complications, including respiratory arrest associated with heroin or sedative overdose.
What are the different types of benzodiazepines and opioids?
Examples of oral benzodiazepines are:
- alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR)
- clobazam (Onfi)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- clorazepate (Tranxene)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat)
- estazolam (Prosom is a discontinued brand in the US)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- oxazepam (Serax is a discontinued brand in the US)
- temazepam (Restoril)
- triazolam (Halcion)
Formulations of benzodiazepines
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.
- Codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and methadone are available as immediate-release tablets.
- Oxycodone and morphine are available as extended-release tablets.
- Morphine and hydrocodone are available as extended-release capsules.
- Morphine also is available as intravenous, subcutaneous, and intramuscular injections.
- Fentanyl is available as an oral lozenge (Actiq) and topical patch (Duragesic).
Are benzodiazepines and opioids safe to take while pregnant or 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.
- Opioid use is not safe for use in pregnant women. Narcotic analgesics may pass through breast milk and affect the baby; therefore, they should be avoided in females who are breastfeeding.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that cause drowsiness and are used to treat insomnia, seizures, anxiety disorders, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, status epilepticus, premenstrual syndrome, and as sedation during surgery. Narcotic (opioid) analgesics are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Both benzodiazepines and narcotics (opioids) are common drugs of abuse.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
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Related Disease Conditions
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Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
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Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- diazepam - oral, Valium
- fentanyl - transdermal, Duragesic
- oxycodone/acetaminophen - oral, Percocet, Tylox
- lorazepam - injection, Ativan
- alprazolam - oral, Xanax
- diazepam - injection, Valium
- Oxycodone vs. Tramadol for Pain
- alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR, Niravam) Anti-Anxiety Drug
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- Oxycodone for Pain (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta, Oxaydo, Xtampza ER, Roxybond)
- Ativan (lorazepam) vs. Valium (diazepam)
- Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone
- Oxycodone vs. Codeine
- Xanax vs. Valium
- Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen, Roxicet, Tylox, Oxycet)
- Dilaudid vs. Morphine
- Buspirone vs. Xanax
- Dilaudid vs. Fentanyl (Pain Strength Comparison and Side Effects)
- Beta Blockers vs. Valium
- Dilaudid vs. Oxycodone
- Oxycodone vs. Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) for Pain
- Lexapro vs. Ativan
- fentanyl injection, Sublimaze
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- fentanyl tablet - buccal, Fentora
- morphine high potency injection (Astramorph, Duramorph, Infumorph, AVINza)
- fentanyl lozenge - buccal, Actiq
- morphine extended-release capsule - oral, Avinza
- morphine sustained-action capsule - oral, Kadian
Prevention & Wellness
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.
FDA Predcribing Information
DEA Factsheet on Benzodiazepines https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/benzodiazepines
Top Benzodiazepines vs. Narcotics (Opioids) Related Articles
alprazolamAlprazolam is a member of the benzodiazepine family, which are sedatives that cause dose-related depression of the central nervous system. Alprazolam is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks, which cause unrealistic worry and apprehension, restlessness, aches, trembling, shortness of breath, smothering sensation, palpitations, sweating, cold clammy hands, lightheadedness, flushing, exaggerated startle responses, problems concentrating, and insomnia.
It is important to be aware of the drug interactions related to alprazolam, effects on pregnancy and nursing mothers, as well as common side effects on the user.
AnxietyAnxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
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.
Back Pain QuizThere are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge of symptoms, treatments, problems, and reasons for common back pain.
Cancer PainCancer pain results from the tumor pressing on nerves or invading bones or organs. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery can also cause pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, radiation, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques are just some treatments for cancer pain.
Chronic PainChronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
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Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat, Diazepam Intensol) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders; and agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures and hallucinations that result from alcohol withdrawal. Side effects include:
Multiple drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Drug AbuseDrug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Lorazepam (Ativan) is a prescription drug used for the management of anxiety disorders, short-term relief of anxiety, or anxiety associated with depression. Ativan is effective for insomnia, panic attacks, and is used for treatment and prevention of alcohol withdrawal.
Side effects include amnesia, loss of orientation, headache, and sleep disturbances.
It is important to be aware of the drug interactions related to lorazepam (Ativan) and the effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding.
oxycodoneOxycodone (brand names OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta, Oxaydo, Xtampza ER, Roxybond) is a narcotic pain-reliever prescribed for moderate to moderately severe pain. Some side effects include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and constipation. Drug interactions, dosing, and pregnancy and breastfeeding information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Oxycodone vs Codeine
Codeine and oxycodone are both opioid (narcotic) pain relievers and cough suppressants. Codeine and oxycodone both are similar to hydrocodone and morphine. Similar side effects of oxycodone and codeine include constipation, dry mouth, itching, rash, dizziness, sedation, and lightheadedness. Serious side effects of codeine include severe low blood pressure (hypotension), adrenal insufficiency, and life-threatening respiratory depression. Serious side effects of oxycodone include heart attack, depression, and abnormal heartbeats.
Both codeine and oxycodone are addictive when taken long-term, and may cause withdrawal symptoms if stopped suddenly. Oxycodone or codeine taken accidentally can result in a fatal overdose.
Oxycodone vs Tramadol for Pain
Oxycodone and tramadol are prescription medications used to manage acute and chronic moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is an opiate (narcotic) derived drug whereas tramadol is a man-made synthetic drug. Tramadol is not a narcotic, and it is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). Some of the side effects of oxycodone and tramadol are the same, for example:
- Dry mouth
Serious side effects for oxycodone and tramadol differ. Oxycodone and tramadol are habit forming drugs and patients may become addicted. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Drug interactions, dosing, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information differs for these drugs and should be reviewed prior to administration.
Oxycodone vs. HydrocodoneOxycodone and hydrocodone are prescription opioid pain medications, both of which are controlled substances. Both drugs have similar uses and side effects, for example dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, constipation, headache, and rash.
Oxycodone and hydrocodone addictive and may cause withdrawal symptoms if discontinued abruptly.
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are available in combination with other drugs. Examples of brand names include Percocet, Vicodin, and Zohydro ER.
Drug interactions, dosage, uses, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Pain ManagementPain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Some causes of neuropathic pain include:
- complex regional pain syndrome,
- interstitial cystitis,
- and irritable bowel syndrome.
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Pain Management: Surprising Causes of PainWhat’s causing your pain? Learn the common causes of lower back pain, as well as pain in the knee, stomach, kidney, shoulder, chest, gallbladder, heel, sciatic nerve, neck, hip, foot and other parts of the body. Find pain management tips that work to help lower pain triggers, as well as other pain treatments.
Panic Attacks QuizCould you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use this quiz to learn to recognize the main elements of this serious, yet common disorder known as panic attacks.
Panic DisorderPanic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.