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What is Sedatives Addiction: Symptoms & Treatment

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TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains words and images related to substance abuse that can be potentially triggering.

Sedatives is a collective term referring to medications prescribed for anxiety and insomnia like benzodiazepines. Medications that fall under the sedative category are prescription medications and therefore controlled substances due to their high potential for misuse and abuse. They are commonly misused due to their euphoric effects, which can lead to sedative addiction.

Today’s article will provide information about addiction to sedatives, its symptoms, and the necessary treatment for recovery.

What Are Sedatives? 

Also referred to as depressants or hypnotics, sedatives are drugs that are used to treat varying conditions such as anxiety, tension, seizures, panic disorders, and sleep disorders. Some of the medications under this umbrella term are:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioids
  • Zolpidem or Ambien
  • Eszopiclone or Lunesta
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate

How Do Sedatives Work?

Sedatives are prescription drugs that induce and maintain sleep by slowing down the central nervous system or CNS, particularly the sensory cortex of our brain. This part is responsible for processing sensory input such as pain, temperature, and touch. It also signals the limbic system of the brain to decelerate, resulting in slowed breathing and heart rate, and eventually sleep. For serious cases of sedative addiction, high tolerance to the drug may potentially lead to health emergencies such as sedative-induced coma.

What Are The Effects Of Sedatives?

Medications under this category have varying effects and duration of effectivity but generally, their effects can last from a couple of hours to more than a day. As mentioned in the previous section, sedatives work by inducing relaxation and sleep. Here are the common immediate effects:

  • relaxation or sedation
  • anxiety reduction
  • drowsiness
  • shallow breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • reduced intensity of physical sensations
  • lightheadedness
  • slurred speech
  • muscle incoordination
  • reduced dexterity
  • impaired cognition and learning
  • interruptions in memory
  • lowered inhibitions
  • paradoxical side effects such as anxiety, sudden mood swings (anger/hostility), or nightmares

Sedatives slow down most body functions and they can greatly impact tasks such as driving, operating heavy equipment and machinery, and the likes. Anyone who is under the influence of a sedative should engage in activities that require muscle coordination. Additionally, sedatives should not be mixed with other substances as they may also cause life-threatening situations.

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What Are The Symptoms of Sedative Addiction?

Sedatives are included in the top five categories of prescription drugs that get abused every year according to the key findings by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS). There are around 6 million Americans who abuse sedatives alone.

Sedatives addiction and other prescription drug addictions are widely misunderstood. Often, prescription addiction happens insidiously, meaning, the patient is not aware of their drug misuse. This might happen because of the wrong dosage or incorrect intake. Here are some of the symptoms of sedative dependence:

  • Prolonged and high-dose consumption of sedatives than what is originally prescribed
  • Spending a huge amount of time in planning, engaging in, or recovering from consuming sedatives
  • Dependence on sedatives to cope or feel ‘normal’
  • Inability to stop taking sedatives despite adverse effects on physical, mental, and emotional health
  • Inability to stop taking sedatives despite wanting to
  • Overlooking and neglecting daily responsibilities like work, school, and even relationships, to be able to take sedatives
  • Undergoing a ‘withdrawal’ when trying to stop (i.e. experiencing depression, dissatisfaction, numbness, and other physiological and psychological effects)
  • Concealing or downplaying the degree of sedatives misuse

Other signs that you or a loved one has sedatives addiction can include the following:

  • Feelings of being ‘drugged’
  • Overwhelming drowsiness
  • Difficulty in coordination and balance
  • Uncontrollable shaking of body parts
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Slowed breathing
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of memory
  • Comma

Over time, a person with an addiction to sedatives would eventually build a tolerance to the calming effect of the medication. Patients who have built up a tolerance may experience the symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms are generally unpleasant at best, and life-threatening at worst. If you think you or a loved one has problems with sedative use, seeking advice from medical professionals at a drug rehab centre in Malibu or wherever is accessible will be beneficial in identifying and addressing your case.

What Are Available Treatments for Sedative Addiction?

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Often, the first recommendation to recover from addiction to sedatives is medical detoxification. In this program, a patient is admitted to an inpatient drug rehab hospital in Canoga Park or wherever your treatment centre is with a live-in arrangement for the duration of the treatment program. During this period, a patient will be tapered off of sedatives under 12/7 medical supervision. 

In a sedative addiction treatment program, medical detox is integrated with long-term therapeutic interventions to maintain lasting sobriety.  Programs and services differ from one place to another. What may be available in a substance abuse program in Pasadena may not be available in Glendale, but here are common programs used in a treatment plan to address addiction to sedatives:

Psychotherapy And Counseling

Psychotherapy or talk therapy is a type of program in which mental health professionals apply evidence-based procedures to help people develop healthier and more effective ways of coping. This can be done individually or by a group. Some of the common approaches are cognitive-behavioral therapy and moral reconation therapy. In an addiction counselling, the goal for each patient is to:

  • build better healthy coping skills to resist drug use
  • develop their motivations for change
  • facilitate better interpersonal relationships
  • improve their problem-solving skills
  • replace drug-related activities with constructive and rewarding activities

Self-help And Mutual-help Programs

Programs like 12-step,  Self-Management for Addiction Recovery (SMART) Training, Alcoholic Anonymous, and other community involvement activities provide mutual support to reduce or completely stop using substances. These types of programs or communities equip those in recovery with the right tools to understand the journey into, during, and after recovery. These programs are helpful to people who are at high risk for relapse and add a supplementary layer of support to prevent it. 

Alternative Programs

Services and treatments like art therapy, chiropractic care, wellness programs, and other similar activities can supplement and complement treatments for people on their journey to recovery. They help in other aspects of well-being like creative expression, physical health, and mindfulness. Talking to a  professional provider will help you know which program or combination of treatments is the right one for you or your loved one. 

Restore Your Wellness

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Sedative addiction, like any substance use disorder, is rife with stigma and bias. The good news is that it can be treated, and there are a lot of ways to regain a healthy productive life back.

Restore Health & Wellness Center specializes in residential Addiction Treatment in Southern California, supervising and aiding patients to smoothly transition from rehabilitation to recovery. Here at Restore, our treatment programs are customized to meet the unique needs of each client in recovery. Traditional programs, combined with alternative treatment methods, give clients of Restore Drug Treatment the confidence to take their lives back from addiction and plan for the future ahead.

If you are ready to commit to treatment and break free from addiction, Restore has a dedicated team offering a continuum of care to help you achieve lasting recovery. We restore hope, we save lives. Recovery is possible.

Visit us at 6918 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303, or you can call us at 888-979-4570.


Insurance can cover up to 100% of treatment


We Accept Most Major Insurance Companies. We accept other forms of payment to make treatment affordable for yourself or a loved one