Depressants Addiction

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Frequently asked questions

What do depressant drugs do?

When used as prescribed by a doctor, depressants can calm nerves and relax muscles. Larger or improperly used doses of depressant drugs can cause confusion, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, and slowed heart rate and breathing.

How do people use and misuse prescription CNS depressants?

  • Most prescription CNS depressants come in pill, capsule, or liquid form, which a person takes by mouth. Misuse of prescription CNS depressants means:
  • taking medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
  • taking someone else's medicine
  • taking medicine for the effect it causes — to get high

How do CNS depressants affect the brain?

The majority of CNS depressants work by increasing the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that suppresses brain function. The sleepy and relaxing effects of this action are what make the drug beneficial for treating anxiety and sleep difficulties. For the first few days after starting to take CNS depressants, people often feel tired and uncoordinated while their bodies acclimate to the adverse effects. Other consequences of use and misuse include:

  • slurred speech
  • poor concentration
  • confusion
  • headache
  • light-headedness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • problems with movement and memory
  • lowered blood pressure
  • slowed breathing

Long-term use of CNS depressants may necessitate higher doses in order to produce therapeutic effects. When consumption is quickly reduced or terminated, it might result in dependence and withdrawal. Stopping suddenly might potentially have negative repercussions, such as seizures.

Can a person overdose on CNS depressants?

Yes, a person can overdose on CNS depressants. An overdose occurs when the person uses enough of a drug to produce life-threatening symptoms, coma or death.

When people overdose on a CNS depressant, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.

How can a CNS depressant overdose be treated?

The most crucial thing to do is contact 999 so that someone who has overdosed can get medical help right away. Flumazenil (Romazicon®) is a medication that medical professionals can use to treat benzodiazepine overdoses, as well as overdoses from sleep medications. In some people using particular antidepressants, the medicine may not entirely restore decreased breathing and may cause seizures. Because flumazenil has a short half-life, the patient may require more doses every 20 minutes until he or she recovers. Body temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure should be monitored while waiting for barbiturates and nonbenzodiazepines to be eliminated.

Can prescription CNS depressant use lead to addiction and substance use disorder?

Yes, misusing or abusing prescription CNS depressants can lead to a substance use disorder (SUD), which can develop into an addiction in severe situations. Long-term use of prescription CNS depressants, even when recommended by a doctor, can lead to tolerance, which means that they require greater and/or more frequent dosages to achieve the desired effects. When continued use of a drug has negative repercussions such as health problems or failure to perform responsibilities at work, school, or family, but the drug is still used, a substance use disorder (SUD) develops.

Those who become hooked to a prescription CNS depressant and immediately stop taking it may have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms, which can start as soon as a few hours after the last dose, include:

  • seizures
  • shakiness
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • overactive reflexes
  • increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature with sweating
  • hallucinations
  • severe cravings

It is not recommended that people who are addicted to prescription CNS depressants try to stop taking them on their own. Withdrawal symptoms from these medications can be severe, and in the case of some pharmaceuticals, potentially fatal.

How can people get treatment for prescription CNS depressant addiction?

There isn't much research on how to treat patients who have become addicted to prescription CNS depressants. People who are addicted to these medications, on the other hand, should undergo medically supervised detoxification because the dosage should be carefully decreased.

Counselling, whether in an outpatient or inpatient setting, can aid people in their recovery. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a style of counselling that focuses on changing a person's thoughts, expectations, and actions while also improving strategies to cope with life's challenges. People who have successfully stopped using benzodiazepines have benefited from cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Often prescription CNS depressant misuse occurs along with the use of other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids. In those cases, the person should seek treatment that addresses the multiple addictions.


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