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Benzodiazepine and Other Sedative-Hypnotic Dependence

David E. Smith, M.D.; Donald R. Wesson, M.D.; Sanjay A. Sabnani

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Sedative-hypnotics, including benzodiazepines, are a chemically diverse group of compounds prescribed to ameliorate symptoms of anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. Although differences exist among sedative-hypnotics in terms of therapeutic indications, metabolic profile, receptor affinity, side effects, and abuse potential, the benzodiazepines and newer hypnotics with similar effects at the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor are remarkably safe when taken in overdose. Twenty to thirty times the usual therapeutic dose is unlikely to be lethal. The "safety" of benzodiazepines in the overdose situation is an important advantage of the benzodiazepines over older sedative-hypnotics.

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Table Reference Number
Table 13B–1. Characteristics of syndromes related to benzodiazepine withdrawal
Table Reference Number
Table 13B–2. Benzodiazepines and their phenobarbital withdrawal equivalents
Table Reference Number
Table 13B–3. Sedative-hypnotics and their phenobarbital withdrawal equivalents

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