The key difference between benzodiazepines and Z-drugs is that benzodiazepines are considered less safe, whereas Z-drugs are considered safer than benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs are types of medication that can act as sedatives. There are differences between their chemical structures as well as other properties such as effectiveness and safety. Moreover, both drugs have some side effects.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are substances that can help to calm or sedate a person by raising levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Common members of this group include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin). These drugs can slow down the function of the body and brain. We can also use it to help with anxiety and insomnia.
Sometimes these drugs are named benzos, which is a class of psychoactive drugs having a core chemical structure with a fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. These drugs are useful as depressants (drugs that can lower brain activity) to treat conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. The very first benzodiazepine was chlordiazepine, which was discovered accidentally by Leo Sternbach in 1955. Then it was made available commercially in 1960 by Hoffmann-La Roche.
Benzodiazepines are usually safe and effective drugs for short-term use (such as 2-4 weeks). But the cognitive impairment and paradoxical effects, including aggression or behavioral disinhibition, can also occur. However, their long-term use can be controversial because there are concerns regarding decreasing effectiveness, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, physical dependence, and an increased risk of dementia and cancer. Furthermore, taking an overdose can cause dangerous deep unconsciousness. However, these drugs are less toxic compared to their predecessors.
What are Z-drugs?
z-drugs are Zopiclone, eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem. These drugs were introduced to the market in 1990, and they have been approved only for insomnia. Moreover, these drugs are widely recognized as effective drugs without potential harm. Although these Z-drugs are effective, they are known to be habit-forming. There is a boxed warning on all Z-drugs by FDA regarding their abuse potential. There are some potential side effects of these drugs; parasomnia is among the most serious concerns. Some common side effects of Z-drugs such as headache, gastrointestinal upset, and dizziness.
The name of the group Z-drugs is derived from the generic names of the drugs that belong to the group of non-benzodiazepine. Further, fatality coming from Z-drugs is rare. Moreover, the addition of alcohols to the Z-drugs can produce additive sedative effects without altering the pharmacokinetics.
What is the Difference Between Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs?
The key difference between benzodiazepines and Z-drugs is their safety. Benzodiazepines are considered less safe, whereas Z-drugs are considered safer than benzodiazepines. However, there can be some side effects regarding these two types of sedatives; the side effects related to Benzodiazepines include cognitive impairment and paradoxical effects including aggression or behavioral disinhibition while the common side effects related to Z-drugs include headache, gastrointestinal upset, and dizziness.
Below is a summary of the difference between benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Benzodiazepines vs Z-drugs
Benzodiazepines are substances that help to calm a person by raising the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA levels in the brain. Z-drugs are Zopiclone, eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem. The key difference between benzodiazepines and Z-drugs is that benzodiazepines are considered less safe, whereas Z-drugs are considered safer than benzodiazepines.
1. “Benzodiazepine” By NEUROtiker – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Photo of medicine, health, close up, caffeine, ammunition, hospital, drug, prescription, pills, medical, drugs, medication, treatment, healthcare, cure, pharmaceutical, remedy” (CC0) via Pxhere