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Sedative Addiction

Sedatives, otherwise known as central nervous system depressants, are commonly prescribed to those who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, or sleep difficulty. Though helpful in such matters, sedatives are also very addictive.

In fact, sedative addiction is a problem facing many people in the United States. Each year, there are hundreds of deaths due to sedative overdose because of how addictive they are and how quickly they work on the brain and body. For those that abuse sedatives, taking more than the physician prescribes, that risk of addiction skyrockets.

If you feel as though you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction to sedatives, be sure to seek aid from medical professionals that can provide support and a safe environment for treatment, as well as recovery. Long-term sedative abuse can result in some severe consequences.

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Sedatives slow down or depress the central nervous system in the body. This results in the brain and the body functioning at a much slower rate than they would if they were not impaired. Motor skills may also be affected so that users may show signs of fatigue.

Sedatives are naturally addicting, and a tolerance to them builds quickly in individuals that use the drugs. There may even be times when tolerance builds up within just a single week of use – meaning a dependence could develop faster than you imagine. They work fast because they rapidly alter the brain and how chemicals function, causing addictions and dependency that is highly addictive.

Common sedatives include:

  • Benzodiazepines: These are used to treat anxiety disorders medically, as well as seizures.
  • Barbiturates: These have been used in the past to treat insomnia as well as anxiety. Today, their primary use is as an anti-epileptic treatment.
  • Prescription sleep aids & hypnotics: These drugs are prescribed by doctors to treat insomnia in patients having trouble sleeping.

Alcohol technically counts as a sedative, but it has its own category. However, it does have a similar effect on the brain as the sedatives listed above.

Symptoms of Sedative Addiction

Sedative addiction symptoms show themselves in two areas: psychologically and physically. Each one has a different amount of time it takes to break down in the body and cause symptoms of withdrawal to occur.

If you or a loved one is struggling with sedative addiction, you may notice any of the following symptoms. If so, get help from medical clinicians and counselors that can guide you to a brighter path away from the grip of sedatives.

Psychological Symptoms of Sedative Addiction

Dependence on drugs not only causes physical effects but mental ones as well. If your body is dependent on sedative drugs, certain signs may show when you do not use the substance for a period of time. When your mind is dependent, however, other symptoms might manifest. These are not limited to:

  • An overwhelming craving for the substance being abused
  • Needing a greater dose or more frequent doses to experience a ‘high’
  • Failing to cut down on using or stopping the drug
  •  Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms
  • Taking the substance even though it has caused problems in several areas of life

When there is a psychological dependence on the drug, you may experience changes quite fast. If you see yourself in some of the above symptoms, seek professional help and make sure you get all the information needed to make good choices about treatment and recovery.

Physical Symptoms of Sedative Addiction

There are physical symptoms of sedative addiction as well, including:

  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Poor impulse control
  •  Dizziness
  • Muscles shaking
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating excessively
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium

The intensity of symptoms displayed may depend on various factors, like what sedative is being abused, the dosage, frequency, and various other factors. Some sedatives may cause irritability, inability to walk without staggering, and drowsiness. Others may cause memory loss or other unusual behaviors.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is struggling with sedative addiction, seek help from an addiction expert that knows how to handle it effectively. The situation can be very tough, so guidance from a professional can be a huge help when it comes to drug abuse of any kind. Discuss the options you or your loved one have for treatment and do not put off help.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Once you’ve become addicted to a drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using it.  With sedatives, detoxing can cause a host of withdrawal symptoms that can vary from person to person. The severity is dependent on the frequency of use of the drug, the dosage, the type of medication, taper schedule, and other health conditions the individual may have. Due to the strong dependency that builds with the use of sedatives, denying the body of a dose can lead to severe physical effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  •  Decreased appetite
  • Tremors
  • Night terrors
  • High fever
  •  Increased heart rate
  •  Abnormal blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures

Due to how severe these symptoms can be, you should never try to quit taking sedatives cold turkey.

Instead, a taper schedule should be used, preferably under the care of a substance abuse expert. This can help manage the symptoms and keep them from worsening and resulting in lasting damage.

Sedative Addiction Treatment

The first step towards combating addiction is to stop denying that the addiction exists. Once you or your loved one has accepted that they have a problem with a substance, treatment can begin. This consists of learning about addiction and recovery skills, maximizing the success of treatment and making recovery a long-term thing.

In residential treatment, detoxing will occur upon admittance to the facility of your choice so that the body can be cleared of the drug, as well as any lingering toxins that may still be in the body. Once detox has been completed, a customized treatment plan will be followed to ensure that you or your family member stay on the road to recovery.

The treatment plan will be updated on a regular basis to make sure that it is benefitting every patient so that you can return to your home strong in your recovery. The treatment program is designed to prepare you for dealing with the stress of the world and combating the urge to relapse. Each day you will become stronger and learn more that keeps you from the grips of the sedative addiction.

Sources

National Institute of Health. Prescription Sedative Misuse and Abuse. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553644/

Merck Manual. Anti-anxiety and Sedative Drugs. from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/special-subjects/recreational-drugs-and-intoxicants/antianxiety-and-sedative-drugs

Psychology Today. Sedatives. from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/sedatives

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