Prescription Drug Abuse: Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines

Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are the most commonly abused prescriptions in the tranquilizer and sedative drug class. These medications, often referred to as Central Nervous System or CNS depressants, are generally used to treat disorders related to sleep and anxiety. Barbiturates and benzodiazepines decrease brain activity causing the person to feel more calm, drowsy, and/or peaceful.

Commonly abused prescriptions:  


  • Mephobarbital (Mebaral)
  • Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)


  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Chlordizapoxide HCI (Librium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)


These prescription medications have a high abuse potential. The human body becomes accustomed to these drugs’ effects relatively quickly when compared to other medications. Long-term use generally results in continuously increased tolerance, which potentially leads to physical dependence.

Mixing these medications with others can be especially dangerous, and a physician should always be consulted. When benzodiazepines or barbiturates are taken with other substances that depress the CNS such as alcohol and many pain medications, the combination could result in death because the respiratory and heart functions are suppressed.

Benzodiazepines and barbiturates withdrawal symptoms include sweating, fever, tremors, seizures, anxiety, panic attacks, and others. These symptoms are believed to result from the rapid transition of slowed brain activity to a heightened level of activity that one’s brain is no longer accustomed to.

If you have any questions about prescription drug abuse call us during business hours at 800.571.3135 or send us an email.


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