Sedatives have been widely prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, pain, insomnia, and panic attacks. They are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow normal brain function by affecting the neurotransmitter GABA – responsible for reducing neuronal excitability. Sedatives such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates have become more controlled due to their potential for abuse or misuse, but even those with prescriptions are at risk.
Those who use sedatives recreationally often do so alongside mixtures of other substances, increasing their chances for dangerous side effects. Prescription medications can easily become abused if a patient is not closely monitoring how often, how much, or how long they are supposed to be taking the drug. A 2015 study conducted by researchers from Texas and published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine noted self-medication as a major cause of sedative abuse; for those with anxiety, increases in emotional stress can lead to increased vulnerability towards anxiety, causing a person to attempt to self-medicate. Examples of emotional stress include:
- Disputes with family or friends
- Work-related issues
- Relationship problems
- Financial concerns
In an attempt to cope with their symptoms, individuals may take more than recommended or for longer periods of time, leading them to the potential of dependency and addiction. Dependency occurs when the body becomes “used to” certain amounts of the drug and therefore needs more of it in order to respond the way it did when it was first used. From there, addiction can occur once a person is no longer able to control their use. Signs of sedative addiction include:
- Overwhelming craving for the drug
- Requiring more of the drug to achieve the desired effect
- Attempts to quit but being unable to
- Physical withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, confusion, dizziness, etc. when the drug is not being used
- Continuing to take the drug despite negative consequences
- Slowed and/or slurred speech
- Impaired motor function
- Difficulty controlling one’s actions
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, contact us today at 855-668-9094 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.