Stop confusing yourself with these highly addictive medications! Benzodiazepines and barbiturates are both central nervous system depressants that treat seizures, sleep, and anxiety disorders.

They both decrease brain activity resulting in a calm and/or drowsy feeling. Both prescription medications have a high potential for abuse. Do not mix benzodiazepines or barbiturates with other CNS depressants, which could lead to death. It is essential to avoid alcohol and over-the-counter medications.

When using benzodiazepines and barbiturates, initiate seizure precautions, monitor urinary output, and signs of medication toxicity.


  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)


  • Amobarbital (Amytal)
  • Mephobarbital (Mebaral)
  • Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)

Learn the easy way to remember the difference between the two medications from Michael Linares, Simple Nursing.


DrugTestStaff. 2011, March 9. Prescription Drug Abuse: Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines. Retrieved from:

Silvestri, Linda Anne. “The Adult Client With a Neurological Disorder.”Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier, 2011. 969-70. Print.