Sedatives are drugs that slow down or sedate the central nervous system (CNS), slowing down functions like heart rate, breathing, and cognition. After taking sedatives, the body functions at a much slower rate, which can affect motor skills in addition to other physical symptoms. Because sedatives are designed to relax the mind and body, they’re often prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, or people with insomnia.
Though these drugs are helpful, it’s important to keep in mind that sedative addiction is possible when these drugs are misused. Below is more on what sedatives are and common sedative abuse symptoms that can indicate a drug problem.
What Are Sedatives?
Often referred to as tranquilizers, barbiturates, or sedative-hypnotics, sedatives are drugs that can induce a state of calmness, relaxation, and drowsiness. Various drugs can be considered sedatives without necessarily being part of the sedative drug class due to their side effects.
Drugs that are sedatives include alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), opioids, and sleep-inducing drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). Sedatives are also referred to as CNS depressants because of their relaxing impact on the brain and spinal cord.
There are also illicit and prescription sedatives. Illicit sedatives include illegal opioids like heroin and desomorphine (krokodil) or may refer to prescription sedatives that are used without a prescription. Prescription sedatives include benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan; barbiturates like Surital, Pentothal, and Nembutal; and even opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.
Depending on the drug class they’re part of, sedatives may impact the brain in different ways. For instance, barbiturates and benzodiazepines target the neurotransmitter GABA to inhibit nerve activity in the brain, while sedatives like opioids attack opioid receptors in the body and produce sedation by targeting dopamine.
While certain side effects vary depending on the specific drug and dosage, general side effects of sedatives include:
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Reduced anxiety
- Lowered inhibitions
- Reduced intensity of physical sensations
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Muscle incoordination
- Dilated pupils
- Reduced motor coordination and movement
- Impaired reaction time
- Impaired learning during sedation
- Memory problems
Anxiety, nightmares, hostility, and agitation may also occur in cases where the individual experienced a negative reaction, or the drugs were taken in higher doses than prescribed.
Are Sedatives Addictive?
Depending on the nature of sedative use, these drugs can be used legally with a prescription and as directed by a prescribing doctor to manage certain ailments. For instance, sedatives like Xanax or Klonopin, when taken as prescribed, can provide significant relief to people who suffer from seizures, panic attacks, insomnia, and other health problems.
However, sedatives are addictive, and abusing them can lead to various long-term repercussions. When sedatives are used for long periods, the individual develops a tolerance to them, which may require them to use larger doses to experience the same relief from symptoms or effects.
A development intolerance can also lead to physical dependence, however, which is marked by withdrawal symptoms when long-term use is suddenly stopped, or doses are drastically reduced. Both tolerance and the discomfort of withdrawals caused by physical sedative dependence can lead a person to use sedatives in higher doses and more often than they should, which can lead to addiction.
Common Sedative Abuse Symptoms
Also known as a sedative use disorder, sedative addiction can happen in anyone who misuses these drugs. This type of drug use disorder can rob a person of the ability to control their thoughts and actions, especially regarding the amount and frequency of their sedative use.
An addiction to sedatives is usually difficult to recover from because of the discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms when the individual attempts to cut down or stop using the drug. However, with the help of PHP and IOP treatment, as offered at our Pompano Beach drug rehab, recovery is possible.
Considering that early recovery is crucial for finding an individual addicted to sedatives the professional support they need, we must first know what sedative abuse symptoms and signs to look out for:
- Using prescription sedatives in higher doses, more frequently, or for longer than directed by the prescribing physician
- Using sedatives when it’s clearly unsafe to do so, such as before driving
- Trying and failing to stop abusing sedatives
- Attempting to obtain multiple prescriptions for sedatives
- Doctor shopping or going to different doctors for more sedatives
- Borrowing or stealing someone else’s prescriptions for sedatives or pills
- Lying, being secretive, and displaying other deceptive behaviors regarding one’s sedative abuse
- Uncharacteristic mood swings or changes in behavior
- Slurred speech
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Slow pulse and heart rate
- Inhibited coordination and motor movement
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Impaired judgment and memory
If you or someone you care about displays sedative abuse symptoms, reach out for support immediately. Due to the likelihood of relapse and the sensitive nature of early addiction recovery, it’s important to seek out medically led treatment, as offered at our Pompano treatment center.
Get Treatment for Sedative Addiction Now
When seeking treatment for sedative abuse, it’s important to find a rehab facility that offers individualized treatment plans. Our Banyan rehab locations focus on the needs of the client to create a program that’s tailored to their situations.
Our Pompano rehabilitation center offers various levels of addiction care to ensure that we can offer clients the flexibility in care that they need to achieve their goals. Within our levels of care, psychotherapy is offered to address the mental health-related contributing factors of clients’ drug or alcohol use, creating a well-rounded form of treatment.