Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan are minor tranquilizers, used for sedation purposes to ease anxiety, treat seizures and panic attacks. In addition to being effective for controlling seizures and treating anxiety, benzodiazepines are also used during medical detoxification for alcoholism and opiate addiction. Because of their heavy sedative qualities, some benzodiazepines are often useful in helping people detoxing from opiates and alcohol to fall asleep throughout the process. Although in many cases benzodiazepines do not actually allow someone detoxing from opiates or alcohol to sleep, they often does assist with taking the edge off to some degree. Other legitimate uses for benzodiazepines are for just prior to minor medical or dental procedures that may provoke a high degree of anxiety in the patient.
Ambien is a benodiazepine derivative medication, zolpidem tartrate, often used as a sleep aid. Most people are well aware of the more well known benzodiazepine drugs like Valium, Xanax, Klonipin, and Librium. These drugs have long been known to be extremely addictive, even when taken as prescribed, and are therefore often bypassed in favor of various alternatives. One frequently used drug for insomnia today is Ambien (Zolpidem), which is has generally the same effects as these "previous generation" benzodiazepines as an aid in sleep, yet is "supposedly" safer and less addictive. Ambien is nevertheless indicated for short term use only, not to be taken longer than approximately 5 weeks. Long term use however may and often does result in ambien addiction, which has the same general effects as benzodiazepine addiction, and requires medical detox to stop taking.
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam is a Schedule IV (Schedule I being most likely to be abused and Schedule V, least likely to be abused) controlled substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Despite it's place in this seemingly harmless classification, Xanax is one of the strongest and most commonly abused benzodiazepines in our society. Xanax is most commonly prescribed for treatment of anxiety and panic disorders and comes in .5mg, 1mg, or 2mg pills. Although Xanax is not particularly dangerous for those who take it as prescribed for legitimate medical ailments, there are serious dangers inherit to Xanax abuse and addiction.