Benzodiazepines vs Ambien Insomnia Medication Side Effects Addiction

Benzodiazepines vs Ambien Insomnia Medication Side Effects Addiction

Benzodiazepines vs. Ambien

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants used to treat various conditions, such as anxiety disorders, seizures, muscle spasms, and sleeplessness. They may work by boosting the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain that reduces nerve activity.

Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative/hypnotic primarily used for sleep and has selectivity in its effects, with little muscle relaxant or anti-seizure properties.

Side effects of benzodiazepines and Ambien


Common side effects include lightheadedness, drowsiness, confusion, sedation, memory impairment, improper body balance, changes in appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, weight gain, dry mouth, reduced libido, and fatigue.

Serious side effects include respiratory depression, dependence and abuse, withdrawal symptoms, jaundice, seizures, suicide, slow heart rate, severe low blood pressure, fainting, akathisia (movement disorder), and increased heart rate.


The most common side effects of zolpidem are drowsiness, headache, weakness, dizziness, and a "drugged" feeling.

Addiction potential of benzodiazepines and Ambien


Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and addictive, even when taken as prescribed. People with a history of substance abuse are at higher risk. Tolerance can develop, requiring higher doses for the same effect. Benzodiazepines have street names like "Benzos" and "Downers" and are abused for recreational purposes.

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Signs of addiction include sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, goosebumps, uncontrollable leg movements, bone and muscle pain, and disturbing or vivid dreams. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and potentially life-threatening.

Benzodiazepines are Schedule IV drugs, with a lower risk of dependence compared to other substances.


Use of zolpidem can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as muscle cramps, sweats, shaking, and seizures. It can also cause abnormal behavior, confusion, and sleep-related behaviors like sleep-driving. Alcohol and other sedative drugs should be avoided while taking zolpidem.

Dosage of benzodiazepines and Ambien


All oral benzodiazepines come in tablet form, with some available as extended-release tablets, orally dissolving tablets, or capsules. Diazepam is also available as a rectal gel.

Some benzodiazepines can be administered by injection.


The recommended adult dose of zolpidem is 5 mg for females, the elderly, or fragile individuals, and 5 to 10 mg for males. The maximum daily dose is 10 mg. Extended-release tablets have different dosing recommendations.

Interaction with other drugs


Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or drugs that have similar effects on the central nervous system (CNS) can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Examples include opioids and sedatives.


Combining zolpidem with alcohol or other sedative drugs can result in additive effects.

Safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding


Benzodiazepines can potentially cause harm to the fetus and should be used with caution in pregnant women. They can enter breast milk and affect the newborn.


Zolpidem use during pregnancy has not been adequately studied. It is excreted in breast milk and may negatively impact the infant.

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Benzodiazepines and Ambien are used to treat insomnia. Benzodiazepines are CNS depressants, while Ambien belongs to the sedative/hypnotic class. They share some similar side effects, such as drowsiness, confusion, and balance problems.


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