Commonly prescribed by medical professionals to treat mental illness, anxiety, memory or sleep disorders; sedatives and tranquilizers have the same depressant effects on the brain, resembling the effects of alcohol intoxication. Meant to create a sense of calmness or reduce anxiety, abuse of these drugs can cause severe negative effects. However, the Sedatives Addiction Treatment Center at Beacon House is here for you.

Sedatives Addiction Facts

Sedatives addiction is one of the most widespread public health problems in America today. And the statistics on sedatives addiction show clearly that younger people are the predominant abusers of these prescription drugs. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 10 percent of high school students have used sedatives for a non-medical reason.

Sedative Addiction Drug Rehabilitation Treatment Center Monterey CAMoreover, at least 47,000 emergency room visits annually are a result of a sedative overdose. Nearly two million Americans over the age of 12 abuse sedatives on a regular basis, as well. The drugs—which are grouped under the “sedative-hypnotic,” “depressant” or “tranquilizer” classes—are blamed for at least a thousand deaths each year.

The definition of sedatives describes two main classes of the drug: Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines.

  • Barbiturates—which include Pentobarbital, Mehobarbital, Secobarbital, Amobarbital, and Phenobarbital—have been used in the medical industry for more than 150 years as a means to induce sleep, relieve anxiety and treat seizure disorders. Some of the most common brand names of these often bright-colored capsules include Nembutal, Mebaral, Seconal, Amytal, and Luminal.
  • Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, have only been in use since the 1960s and were originally formulated as a safer substitution for barbiturates. Like Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines—which include Lorazepam, Alprazolam, Triazolam, Clonazepam, Chlordiazepoxide, Diazepam, Clorazepate, and Oxazepam—are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and convulsions and are sometimes prescribed as muscle relaxants as well. Familiar brand names of Benzodiazepines include Ativan, Xanax, Halcion, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, Tranxene, and Serax, and like Barbiturates, they usually come in the form of brightly colored capsules.

No matter the specific brand name being taken, the risk of addiction is extremely high across the entire spectrum of the sedative-hypnotic class. Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines—commonly used to produce a relaxing effect—work by suppressing the central nervous system, meaning they slow down its function and generally the rest of the body’s systems as well. They also impede normal brain function by affecting specific neurotransmitters—chemicals that conduct communication between brain cells. With barbiturates, abusing or even innocently miscalculating a dosage can lead to respiratory distress—where breathing slows of stops—a quick onset of coma and seizures and even death. And whereas health professionals consider Benzodiazepines to be a safe alternative to Barbiturates they still have potentially harmful psychological effects including memory impairment, poor motor coordination, and general confusion.

Addiction to any sedative can develop quickly as the body becomes accustomed to the drug and builds a tolerance to its effects, requiring larger and larger doses be taken to achieve the desired relaxation, calmness and drowsiness. However, a real danger of sedatives occurs when too much is taken at once or when it is combined with alcohol: in both cases heart and respiratory functions can become dangerously slow or stop all together, and too often people will take a sedative as a way to calm the undesired effects of another drug they are taking, which overwhelms the body’s ability to metabolize the various drugs and leads to liver toxicity and, in many cases, permanent damage or even death.

Understanding Sedative Side Effects

Because of the way sedatives such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates affect the central nervous system—slowing it down to create sense of relaxation, easing anxiety and helping induce sleep, there are unintended side effects that can occur both during initial use and in the long term.

When taken in small doses there’s a release of tension in the body, and this is the reason the vast majority of sedatives are prescribed by physicians.

However, in larger doses an individual may experience:

  • a loss of coordination
  • blurred vision
  • impaired perceptions of time
  • slowed reflexes and breathing
  • a reduced sensitivity to pain
  • unclear thinking
  • slurred speech

When too much of a sedative is taken, either intentionally or unintentionally, a variety of serious health risks can occur:

  • Anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin resulting in extreme weariness or tiredness)
  • psychological depression
  • impairment of liver function
  • a state of chronic intoxication (resulting in severe headaches and compromised vision and speech)

Additionally, when sedatives are taken during pregnancy, newborns of chronic sedative abusers exhibit difficulty breathing and problems with feeding, disturbed sleep patterns, profuse sweating, irritability and prolonged fever.

Perhaps the most commonly experienced side effects of sedatives occur in those people who are prescribed “sleeping pills,” the generic term for any benzodiazepine, barbiturate and depressant that is used to help individuals with insomnia. For those who take sleeping pills only occasionally the effects are generally mild and pass quickly: daytime drowsiness; a dry mouth or throat; difficulty keeping balance; and moderate problems with thinking, attention and memory. For those individuals that use a sedative in the long-term to help them fall asleep or stay asleep, the side effects are much more noticeable and can be prolonged: burning or tingling in the extremities; unusual dreams or nightmares; changes in appetite; constipation or diarrhea; constant headaches and stomach pains; and a persistent weakness throughout the body.

And in rare cases when a sleep aid is taken for a long period of time, the user may experience uncontrollable shaking in various parts of their body, a strong indication that they should consult with a physician immediately.

Although the side effects of sedative use vary considerably depending on the length of use, the type and amount of drug taken and the physical health of the user, it’s vital that anyone taking sedatives remain in close consultation with their prescribing physician and report any unexpected side effects immediately, as they can quickly cause severe complications in the body and lead to ongoing health problems.

What are Sedative Addiction Symptoms?

The symptoms of sedative addiction mimic the symptoms of addiction to other drugs that also cause depressant effects, such as alcohol or opioids. In fact, because the outward effects of sedatives are very similar to the outward effects of alcohol use—slurred speech, problems with coordination or walking, inattention and difficulties with memory—the symptoms of addiction are also nearly identical.

Typically, the sedative abuser will have strong, uncontrollable cravings for the drug and will be unsuccessful in their attempts to cut down on its use. Also, when a state of physical dependence is reached the addict will avoid reducing their use of the drug or stopping it all together due to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that occur.

One true sign that someone has reached a state of addiction to a sedative is their continued use of the drug despite all the problems that accompany it abuse. Interpersonally, they will avoid and withdraw from friends, family and activities and hobbies that were once pleasurable; they will have problems with their work or career, especially as sedatives impair the mind’s ability to focus on specific tasks and pay attention to details; they may endure legal and financial problems; and they can experience emotional turmoil from their inability to cease their use of sedatives. All these signs of addiction signal that the sedative abuser’s life is spiraling out of control and should be taken very seriously when recognized and identified.

With sedative abuse—more so than with the abuse of other drugs—the possibility of an overdose is extremely high, and in nearly all cases represents that a state of sedative addiction has been reached.

The Symptoms Of An Overdoes Can Vary Greatly

In the initial onset, the individual will

  • display moderate impairment of the central nervous system in the form of impaired balance
  • extreme drowsiness or sleepiness
  • signs of amnesia
  • slurred speech

Additionally, a state of delirium, hallucinations and anxiety and aggression can be seen in a sedative overdose.

In the case of a severe overdose, the individual most likely:

  • enters a deep coma
  • experiences profound respiratory problems
  • hypothermia
  • apnea (where breathing can stop)
  • cardiac arrest

And if an overdose was caused by the individual mixing sedatives with other drugs—such as alcohol or opioids—the physical consequences are compounded and can quickly become fatal.

Coping with Sedative Withdrawal Symptoms

Many addiction specialists and health professionals note that the withdrawal symptoms associated with sedative abuse or addiction are not as difficult to cope with compared to withdrawal from other drugs such as alcohol, heroin or cocaine. However, there are serious risks and complications the addict may experience when ceasing their sedative use, and they should therefore be under the care and guidance of a physician or addiction treatment specialist who can monitor their withdrawal progress, ease symptoms, and most importantly, help prevent a relapse into sedative use.

The most common physical and psychological symptoms of sedative withdrawal include agitation and irritability and severely disturbed sleep patterns.

sedative treatment centerHowever, if an individual stops taking a sedative suddenly, the body’s internal systems can change drastically, causing tremors, nightmares, a loss of appetite, rapid pulse and breathing, abnormal blood pressure, high fever, and, in extreme circumstances, hallucinations accompanied by dangerous seizures. These seizures should be reported to a physician immediately, as they can quickly lead to heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, someone withdrawing from sedative use can expect to experience recurring head and body aches, a sensitivity to noise, light and touches and a general feeling of blurriness in thinking accompanied by memory problems and poor concentration.

The dangerous psychological symptoms of sedative withdrawal can be profound, and it’s important that an individual ceasing their drug use consult with an addiction specialist who can help them cope with serious issues such as deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Such health care professionals can provide a host of useful tools and techniques—such as relaxation and meditative training—to help ease these symptoms.

The onset of withdrawal symptoms, severity of those symptoms and the length of time withdrawal takes varies depending on what type of sedative-hypnotic is being taken, how long the abuse or addiction has been going on and whether the individual has any other underlying health problems. With short-acting medications such as Nembutal, Seconal or Xanax withdrawal symptoms typically begin with 12 to 24 hours after the last dose was taken and reach their most severe with two to three days. With longer-lasting medications such as Valium or Librium symptoms of withdrawal can still be expected to begin within one to two days, but they won’t reach their most debilitating point until six to eight days after the last dose is taken.

The effects of withdrawal from sedative-hypnotic medications worsen the longer a person takes a drug, so it’s important that, if a situation of abuse or addiction is suspected, the individual seek treatment immediately to prevent potentially life-threatening conditions which can occur when they begin to taper their use or cease taking the drugs suddenly.

Sedatives Addiction Treatment Center in Northern California

When someone addicted to a sedative-hypnotic, tranquilizer or depressant decides to stop their use, it’s vital they seek help from an addiction specialist in either an in- or outpatient setting, as such help can mean the difference between achieving long-term recovery or relapsing into drug use.

Detoxification from sedatives most often begins with a comprehensive evaluation from a health care provider who specializes in addiction disorders. By determining how long the drug abuse has been going on, the amount of drugs being taken and the general physical and mental health of the addict professional addiction counselors can tailor a treatment program that best suits the individual and addresses the underlying conditions that have led to drug abuse and addiction in the first place.

Because ceasing sedative use can be traumatic on the body’s systems, many medical professionals take a tapering approach to the addiction, slowly reducing use to avoid dangerous conditions such as seizures that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Sometimes this approach will be supplemented by medications that help ease cravings and reduce the stress associated with withdrawal. While undergoing the process of tapering, one-on-one or peer counseling can significantly help with the psychological effects of withdraw such as depression and anxiety, effects that, too often, drive an addict back into sedative abuse.

man participates in individual therapy with a clinical during xanax addiction treatmentMost likely a person began taking a sedative under the direction of physician for a medical condition, and therefore that underlying problem must be addressed during the detoxification and treatment process. Often this situation can be treated by a psychotherapist who can help the addict identify why their sedative abuse began, whether it was due to severe anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, or a desire to escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday life.

As with recovery from other addictive substances, addiction counselors will likely offer advice designed to prevent a relapse into use. Such advice includes avoiding people, places and things related to sedative use and reinforcing the negative consequences of abuse and addiction, consequences that often include a deterioration of personal relationships and career and financial and legal troubles. Coupled with other behavioral therapies in personal or group counseling sessions the individual can identify the stressors that led to their addiction and work to successfully avoid them and prevent a relapse into use.

And of course, as with any effective treatment program, the ongoing support of family and friends is vital to successful long-term recovery: addiction specialists consistently reinforce the idea that the chances for lasting recovery from sedative addiction—or any drug addiction—are greatly increased when the addict recognizes that they don’t need to approach their struggle alone.

At the Beacon House Sedatives Addiction Treatment Center, you can overcome abuse to these medications. With effective treatment and therapy, your stay at our facilities will lead you on a path to sobriety with relapse prevention in place. This will help you transition back to daily life after rehab.

Specifically, we offer a wide range of therapies for our clients. With a combination of therapies, we can dive into your addiction and help you develop positive changes and behaviors in your life. For example, our Addiction Therapy Services include:

These therapies will become the foundation of your rehab at our Sedatives Addiction Treatment Center. Furthermore, you will have access to around-the-clock support and holistic activities, such as golf and horse riding.

Seek Help at Beacon House

When addiction takes hold of your life, it’s best to seek help as soon as possible. Therefore, reach out to Beacon House today. Our Sedatives Addiction Treatment Center will help you turn over a new page in your life. Contact us now at 831.372.4366 for more information about our programs.