Sedatives encompass a wide variety of drugs with different mechanisms of action that can induce depression of the central nervous system (CNS). In the first part of the 20th century, the pharmacotherapy of anxiety and insomnia relied on barbiturates, which were replaced with benzodiazepines as drugs of choice in the second part of the previous century. Besides those two groups of drugs, other sedatives are also used for that purpose.
What is a sedative drug?
Sedatives can be abused to produce an overly-calming effect (alcohol being the classic and most common sedating drug). At high doses or when they are abused, many of these drugs can cause unconsciousness and even death. There is some overlap between the terms sedative and hypnotic.
What is a sedative-hypnotic drug?
Sedative-hypnotics are drugs that depress or slow down the body’s functions. Often these drugs are referred to as tranquilizers and sleeping pills or sometimes just as sedatives. Their effects range from calming down anxious people to promoting sleep.
Are all sleeping pills addictive?
Sedative hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Librium are anti-anxiety medications. They also increase drowsiness and help people sleep. While these drugs may be useful short-term, all benzodiazepines are potentially addictive.