Ambien and Xanax both belong to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics which are used to induce and/ or maintain sleep. Sedatives and hypnotics are two classes of drugs that are also known as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, or sedatives. There are two main types of sedative-hypnotics, which include benzodiazepines and z-drugs. Every individual is unique and will have a somewhat distinct physiological response to ingesting Ambien and Xanax, respectively. Although some individuals may prefer the effects of one over the other, Ambien is considered a less addictive substance than Xanax.
Xanax, generically known as alprazolam is an anti-anxiety prescription medication that belongs to the subsection of sedative-hypnotics known as benzodiazepines. It is primarily used to treat panic attacks, anxiety disorders, excessive worry, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that works by acting on certain neurotransmitters in one’s brain, specifically the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid-A). When Xanax binds to this receptor it elicits a calming effect as it slows down excessive brain activity and reduces feelings of panic and/ or stress. Xanax is fast acting, and typically begins working within one to two hours. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the average half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of alprazolam “has been found to be about 11.2 hours (range: 6.3-26.9 hours) in healthy adults.” Xanax can be a highly effective medication when used properly and under the direct supervision of a medical professional. However, as is true with any medication, there are risk factors and potential side effects associated with taking Xanax. The United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Xanax as a Schedule IV Substance, which are defined as “drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” When abused, Xanax is known to be a drug with high addiction potential.
Ambien is a brand name medication; the generic form is known as zolpidem. It is used to treat certain sleep issues (e.g., insomnia). Ambien belongs to the subsection of sedative-hypnotics known as z-drugs. Ambien is also a central nervous system depressant and works similarly in one’s body to Xanax. Much like Xanax, Ambien has been classified by the DEA as a Schedule IV Substance. Ambien is not intended for long-term use; rather short treatment periods lasting one to two weeks long, or less are most common. The average half-life of Ambien is about 2.5 hours. When Ambien is taken exactly as directed, under strict supervision of a qualified medical professional, it can be a highly effective medication.
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