Sedative Dependence2018-02-22T21:24:04+00:00

Sedative-Hypnotic Dependence

Sedative-Hypnotic Dependence

Sedative-Hypnotic Dependence

Despite their many beneficial effects, benzodiazepines and barbiturates have the potential for abuse and should be used only as prescribed. The use of non-benzodiazepine sleep aids is less well studied, but certain indicators have raised concern about their abuse liability as well.

During the first few days of taking a prescribed CNS (Central Nervous System) depressant, a person usually feels sleepy and uncoordinated, but as the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug and tolerance develops, these side effects begin to disappear. If one uses these drugs long term, larger doses may be needed to achieve the therapeutic effects.

Sedative-hypnotic drugs — sometimes called “depressants” — and anxiolytic (antianxiety) drugs slow down the activity of the brain. Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol) are the best known. An older class of drugs, called barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital) fit into this broad category. Other drugs in this group include chloral hydrate, glutethimide, methaqualone (Quaalude, Sopor, “ludes”) and meprobamate (Equanil, Miltown and other brand names).

Alcohol has some properties similar to the above drugs, but alcohol is so common that health experts classify alcohol-related problems separately. Regular use of these drugs often leads to “drug tolerance.” That is, the body adjusts to them and it takes a higher and higher dose to achieve the desired effect. Dependence also can develop, meaning withdrawal symptoms will occur if the drug is suddenly stopped.

There is no absolute dose or number of pills per day that indicates a person is dependent on sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs. People with drug dependence eventually develop physical tolerance (the gradual need for greater amounts of the drug to feel the same effects). But addiction implies that the person is also craving the drug’s effect or relying on the drug for a reason other than the intended therapeutic uses of the drug.

Symptoms of dependence on sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs:

  • A craving for the drug, often with unsuccessful attempts to cut down on its use
  • Physical dependence (development of physical withdrawal symptoms not taking the depressant)
  • A continued need to take the drug despite drug-related psychological, interpersonal or physical problems

Treatment for dependence on Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic drugs:

The first goal of treatment is detoxification (withdrawal from the drug). Detoxification usually involves gradually reducing the dose of the drug or temporarily substituting a medication that has less serious withdrawal symptoms. The substitute medication, if used, also will be reduced gradually. Depending on the severity of the drug dependence and other factors (significant heart or lung disease, liver failure, high blood pressure, a person’s age and general health status), detoxification may need to take place in the hospital.

All addictions are complex and have multiple causes. A drug use disorder is usually not an isolated problem. Commonly, people with sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drug addictions are also struggling with other mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression.  Treatment is best tailored to the multiple needs of the individual through a comprehensive evaluation.

*More research needed to further populate the page and possible cross pollinate.

Symptoms of dependence on sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs:

  • A craving for the drug, often with unsuccessful attempts to cut down on its use
  • Physical dependence (development of physical withdrawal symptoms not taking the depressant)
  • A continued need to take the drug despite drug-related psychological, interpersonal or physical problems

Treatment for dependence on Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic drugs:

The first goal of treatment is detoxification (withdrawal from the drug). Detoxification usually involves gradually reducing the dose of the drug or temporarily substituting a medication that has less serious withdrawal symptoms. The substitute medication, if used, also will be reduced gradually. Depending on the severity of the drug dependence and other factors (significant heart or lung disease, liver failure, high blood pressure, a person’s age and general health status), detoxification may need to take place in the hospital.

All addictions are complex and have multiple causes. A drug use disorder is usually not an isolated problem. Commonly, people with sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drug addictions are also struggling with other mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression.  Treatment is best tailored to the multiple needs of the individual through a comprehensive evaluation.

*More research needed to further populate the page and possible cross pollinate.