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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Sedative Addiction

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The central nervous system depressants, also known as sedatives, treat people struggling with disorders such as anxiety and sleep disorders, like insomnia. While these are prescription medications and are meant to help people manage their various conditions, the risk of addiction is still present.

In some cases, people take this type of drug for its euphoric effects. But most of the time, sedative addiction starts with patients developing a tolerance. From there, they increase their dosage and take them more frequently to get the desired effect.

Some commonly used sedatives include:

  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Restoril (Temazepam)
  • Seconal (secobarbital)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

In this article, we’ll talk about what sedatives can do to your mind and body if you abuse them, as well as treatment options to get you better.

What Are The Effects Of Sedative Addiction?

Sedatives slow brain activity, making users feel relaxed and calm, and help them get better sleep. It’s a viable treatment to manage anxiety and sleep problems.

However, if taken improperly, they also bring some side effects, which are similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication. These are some physical signs of sedative abuse:

Physical Effects

  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Slow reaction times
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired distance and depth perception
  • Lower sensitivity to feeling pain
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive sweating

Long-term use and abuse have more severe side effects; some are associated with social behaviors.

Weight Change

On the social and personal side, sedative addiction can make you lose weight drastically by occupying your mind.

Instead of eating properly, you spend your time taking the drug or thinking about the drug.

On the medical side, some sedatives affect your ability to intake and process food. For example, some side effects of sleeping pills include diarrhea, changes in appetite, and stomach pain or tenderness. These effects may even be more dangerous if you have a sleeping pill addiction.

You can also gain weight with certain sedatives. One study says that there is evidence that benzodiazepines may enhance your appetite. However, it’s unsure whether this drug causes extreme weight gain. 


More seriously, sedative use, abuse, and addiction can lead to overdose, possibly a lethal one.

woman in black tank top sitting on window

Psychological Effects

Because sedatives target your brain, they not only affect your body but your mind. Here are some of the common mental effects:

  • Mood swings
  • Inappropriate behavior

The longer they use and abuse these drugs, the worse they will affect you mentally. Consequently, these also have social and personal repercussions. These effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

The effects above may result from drug or drug abuse. You start to isolate yourself from loved ones and neglect all the important things you have in life, like your passions, interests, and responsibilities.

You may spend most, if not all, your attention and time on the drug– whether you’re actually doing it or just thinking about it.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing several of these symptoms at an intense level, go to your doctor and possibly seek treatment.

person lying on bed covered with blanket

What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms Of Sedative Abuse?

Another sign of addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug or haven’t taken it in a long time. If you use and abuse a sedative for a long time, your body gets so used to the effects that not taking it for a while can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms.

This is also part of the recovery journey, as you’ll need to detox to get the drug out of your system. 

How severe the symptoms will depend on the dosage, frequency of taking the drug, type of drug, taper schedule, and other health conditions you may have.

According to the American Addiction Centers, sedative withdrawal comes in three stages, and each stage has several effects.

First Stage

Also known as the minor withdrawal phase, the initial stage of sedative withdrawal involves:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • High systolic blood pressure
  • Sleeping problems, such as insomnia

Second Stage

Often, the next stage of sedative withdrawal includes:

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • High diastolic blood pressure
  • Vomiting

Third Stage

During the final stage of sedative withdrawal are; delirium tremens– severe changes in the mental or nervous system. It’s also here where derealization happens and the inability to recognize familiar things and people.

Unfortunately, some withdrawal symptoms are so severe that the patient dies. To prevent life-threatening events from happening, it’s recommended to taper the regular dosage gradually. Quitting cold turkey can be as dangerous as continued addiction.

What Are Some Treatment Options For Sedative Drug Abuse?

  • Medical Detox

Sedative addiction treatment begins with medical detox. It’s here that the medical professionals help rid your body of the substance. They’ll taper down the dose of the drug and ease withdrawal symptoms.

This is a critical step as withdrawal symptoms are not only uncomfortable but may be dangerous too. That’s why it’s vital that detoxification happens in a safe place.

  • Addiction Treatment Program

Once you’re done with the detox, you can move to a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan.

Addiction looks different on everyone, so does rehab and recovery. Good rehabilitation centers offer personalized plans that will help you on your recovery and sobriety journey.

  • Outpatient or Aftercare Program

Recovery doesn’t end after treatment. It’s an ongoing process that you have to work on every day.

Relapse will always be a risk. But having an aftercare or outpatient program where you can continue to be better will increase the chances of you staying healthy and sober.

Even though sedatives are designed to help patients through various disorders, there’s still a risk for sedative addiction. However, if you can spot the effects and symptoms of abuse, you may successfully beat this disease.

Addiction is a scary thing to go through. If you or anyone you know wants to begin the road to recovery, turn to Restore Health & Wellness Center. You can visit us at 6918 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303, contact us at 888-979-4570, or visit our website here.

Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. This blog aims not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case-to-case basis.

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