Substance Abuse
Substance Abuse: Benzodiazepines

Barbiturates vs. Benzodiazepines: The Differences

Often, people think of stimulants when they imagine stolen prescriptions and the illegal drug market. While there are many kinds of stimulants, that’s only half the picture. Depressants are on the other scale of drug abuse experience and pose a serious threat to anyone uniformed. There are two depressants commonly found in illicit trade. People frequently compare barbiturates vs. benzodiazepines, but the differences can be very surprising. Few know the history of these drugs and how dangerous they can be.

What Is a Barbiturate?

Barbiturates form a class of drugs that have depressant properties. Originally, these drugs were created for use in sleeping pills and anxiety medication. However, due to the fact that they’re highly addictive, they are typically only used for certain cases today. Most commonly, they’re used as general anesthesia or under carefully supervised medical prescription.

Professional barbiturate addiction treatment is extremely important due to the potency of the drug. Anyone seeking to recover from this drug should seek immediate medical attention. As a depressant, they reduce the user’s heart rate which can be lethal on its own. However, an overdose of this drug can easily be lethal. It even has a history of use in capital punishment and assisted suicide. Unsurprisingly, due to this latter fact, barbiturates are well known for being deadly, and as such, are used extremely sparingly in medicine today.

What Is a Benzodiazepine?

This drug arose later as a safer alternative to barbiturates in the medical industry. It too is a depressant and lowers the heart rate and induces a sedated state. However, the major difference is significantly reduced lethality. This makes benzodiazepines a better option throughout the medical industry.

A higher-strength dose of these drugs induces manageable and predictable levels of sedation. It is still highly addictive, though, and tends to be used for most special cases. These cases include short-term solutions to ease anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and other ongoing complications. It is harder to overdose on benzodiazepines.

What Is the Difference?

Primarily, the difference between barbiturates and benzodiazepines is the lethality factor. Barbiturates are very powerful and have a long history of causing deaths. To combat fatalities, barbiturates are infrequently used medicinally. This significantly reduces the accessibility of the drug being used illegally.

Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, are used for several conditions that are more common and have few medicinal alternatives. This availability makes these drugs a huge risk. Normally, because of both drugs’ addictive traits, they would be very carefully administered, and doctors would monitor the patient closely. However, once released on the streets, these drugs are very dangerous, and it's easy to become hooked.

Besides being alarmingly more potent, barbiturates also are very volatile. When mixed with other drugs or chemicals in the user’s body, this drug reacts wildly. This adds a toxicity level not shared by its more common counterpart.

The depth of the addiction abusing these drugs leads to is destructive. It’s frightening to see a family member in so much pain and not be able to help. Detox from a drug like barbiturates and benzodiazepines requires professional care to ensure safety. We are here to provide the knowledge, support, and help your loved ones need—reach out to Chapman House today with your questions.


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