Benzodiazepines and Other Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics

  • Christine LaGrotta
  • Anil Thomas


The sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic class of medication includes benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and the nonbenzodiazepine “Z-drugs.” Tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal can occur with any of these medications when misused or used for treatment. Benzodiazepines are of concern with their use contributing to opioid overdoses. It is important to recognize and treat, as well as prevent, sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic use disorders. Cessation, especially abrupt withdrawal, of any of these medications can lead to a clinically significant withdrawal syndrome, which must be immediately recognized by providers and treated as a medical emergency. Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and the nonbenzodiazepine “Z-drugs” have distinct, though variably overlapping, clinical manifestations of intoxication and withdrawal, which are described. Treatment of sedative-hypnotic use disorders, including pharmacological, therapeutic, and psychosocial, will be covered elsewhere in this book.


Benzodiazepine Barbiturate Z-drug Sedatives Treatment Withdrawal GABA Tolerance 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine LaGrotta
    • 1
  • Anil Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-WestNew YorkUSA

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