Sedatives are drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They are used to make people relax. They are commonly prescribed by doctors to help treat mental health disorders.
These substances work by slowing down your brain activity. They cause a reaction in the brain that releases gamma-aminobutyric acid. This causes the relaxed, sometimes euphoric effects.
Sedatives include benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. The term sedatives is pretty all encompassing, also including opiates and barbiturates. The type of sedatives people use varies, but the side effects and dangers for addiction do not.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Xanax and other sedatives as a schedule 4 controlled substance. This means they believe there is less likelihood for abuse when compared to other drugs.
Unfortunately, the DEA overlooks how easy it is for individuals to become addicted to these drugs they are prescribed.
Addiction to sedatives occurs when people begin to overuse or abuse them. Some people become addicted to sedatives without even realizing it. Drug abuse quickly turns into an addiction, sometimes without people even realizing it.
Addiction to Sedatives Explained
According to Health Line, “Dependency develops when your body becomes physically dependent on the sedative and can’t function normally without it”. Dependency can turn into addiction when people start taking more than prescribed to achieve an effect.
Increased tolerance to a sedative or the need to take more sedatives to experience its normal effects are signs of dependence. Those who are prescribed sedatives can become addicted to their prescriptions before they even recognize dependence.
Many people start out taking a sedative as prescribed by a doctor. Unfortunately, their tolerance builds and they become addicted. Some people then begin to take other drugs in combination, which compounds their risks of side effects or overdose.
While reading this article, you may have found yourself asking what the difference is between addiction and dependence to a sedative. Dependence is the body’s physical need for the drug. The dependence on the drug to function normally. Addiction encompasses dependency, but also includes the consequences of use and consistent craving for more sedatives.
Signs of Sedative Addiction
Sedative use becomes an addiction when you feel you cannot stop taking them. If you constantly crave more sedatives despite taking a regular dose, you may be building an addiction to them.
Withdrawal symptoms are negative physical and mental symptoms people experience when they stop taking a drug. If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking sedatives, you are likely already dependent or addicted to sedatives.
Common withdrawal symptoms from these drugs include irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression and more.
Other signs you may be addicted to sedatives include the inability to meet deadlines and loss of friendships or relationships due to sedative use.
If you are addicted to sedatives, it is of top priority that you are careful when stopping use. Sedative withdrawal symptoms are of the most severe, and can cause seizures and other life threatening side effects.
Why People Become Addicted to Sedatives
This article has already addressed the reasons people take sedatives. Most take them to treat anxiety and depression. Others may take them for insomnia to sleep.
The effects of sedatives are relaxation and comfort, sometimes paired with a mild euphoria. These effects feel good and most people continue taking the sedatives because they help them feel better. However, this can quickly lead to them taking more and more to achieve the same effect, building tolerance and chemical dependence.
Even people who take their prescribed dose of a sedative and do not abuse it can become dependent or addicted. Taking a medication for an extended period of time builds dependence, which can lead to addiction.
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Health Effects of Sedative Addiction
Sedative addiction comes with its own list of potential health concerns. Many people report increased depression and anxiety. They find they cannot function without the sedatives.
Short term effects of sedative use include headaches, stomach pain, nightmares, impaired attention, and diarrhea.
Long-term sedative use can also result in memory problems, liver dysfunction and failure and feelings of hopelessness.
Many people suffer from further mental illness due to struggling with a substance abuse problem combined with a mental health diagnosis. These two problems only feed one another and perpetuate negative results.
Sedative overdose is also a concern. As an individual’s tolerance to sedatives grows, they need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effect. This can increase risk of overdose on sedatives.
Combining drugs like alcohol or opiates with sedatives also play a role in increasing the dangers of use.
Dangers of Stopping Sedatives
As stated previously, stopping these drugs should be treated with the utmost caution. Mild symptoms can include insomnia, restlessness, sweating and chills, along with a list of other mental and physical side effects. Withdrawal symptoms from sedatives are considered to be on par with alcohol in terms of danger to the individual.
The dangers associated with stopping sedatives requires a medical environment for detox. A medically supervised environment and medication assisted detox makes coming off sedatives more comfortable.
Why Sedative Addiction Needs Treatment
Sedative addiction is a serious problem that only becomes more difficult to handle as the addiction progresses. Mental illnesses become exacerbated when stopping, and continued use wreaks havoc on the body.
The withdrawal symptoms of sedatives include seizures which can be extremely dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can be managed when done in a proper medical setting.
Those who are prescribed sedatives may have a higher likelihood of relapse. This is because they can simply fill a prescription to overcome their cravings. Addiction treatment programs are the best option for those struggling with sedative addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a sedative addiction, we are here to help. We have a comprehensive treatment program that is individually focused. Our medical detox is staffed with experienced physicians who specialize in sedative addiction. We offer a quality of medical care that is unmatched in the industry. For more information please give us a call at (800) 817-1247
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