Depressant Abuse and Addiction: The Effects of These Drugs and Available Treatment Options

Depressant addiction and abuse are actually real, which comes as a surprise to a lot of people. They are also often shocked to learn that they may need to go through detox and rehab to get off them. These medications are marketed as the answer to depression, and many doctors fail to communicate how addictive they can be.

There are a lot of people who need to take depressants for various reasons. Most of the time, these prescription drugs do not come with addiction warnings. Even if they did, people would tend to think they were safe because they were prescribed by a doctor. But that fact alone only contributes to how dangerous they can be when they are misused.

We want people to know and understand the risks of abusing depressants. These drugs can have a profound effect on them both physically and mentally. Most people who form addictions to them do so on accident. They never mean to become addicted, but they do for a number of reasons. We want these individuals to know that there is hope for their recovery and professional treatment can help.

What are Depressants?

Depressants are drugs that depress certain areas of the nervous system to help a person relax. They are often given to people who suffer from mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.

They may be prescribed for seizures and convulsions. This is more of a class of drugs rather than one particular type of drug.

People who take depressants may sell them to dealers on the street for the money. Others will go to dealers to get more of these drugs if they can't get a prescription or if the amount their taking stops working.

Depressants are often referred to as "downers" on the street. They can come in multi-colored tablets or capsules, and sometimes they come in liquid form. Depressants vary in their potency, and some forms are stronger than others, even in smaller dosages. They are usually prescribed by a doctor, but there are some that are able to be made and sold on the black market.

Some common street names include:

  • Barbs
  • Candy
  • Phennies
  • Red Birds
  • Tooies
  • Tranks
  • Yellow Jackets or Yellows

Depressants drugs are sold under several different brand names, and types of depressants include:

  • Ativan
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Celexa
  • Cipralex
  • Halcion
  • Klonopin
  • Lexapro
  • Librium
  • Seroquel
  • Tranquilizers
  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Zoloft

How Abuse of Depressants Leads to Addiction

To understand how addiction works in the body, it's important to know some basic abuse facts first. It can help to know the difference between abuse and addiction.

The definition refers to the act of taking depressants in a way other than how they were intended. It can mean taking higher doses without a doctor's consent, taking them more frequently than prescribed, or taking them for longer than necessary. It can also mean taking them without a prescription.

A person who is abusing the drug will often want it for the feeling it gives them rather than just to treat a condition. They will think about it even when they aren't using, and will often use even when it has bad consequences. Drug abuse doesn't always lead to addiction, but it increases the likelihood that someone will become addicted to a prescribed depressant medication.

How are Depressants Abused?

There are a lot of different ways that people can abuse depressants. The most common way is to just take them for too long. Sometimes people will have the desire to continue using them even after a doctor cuts them off from their prescription. As a result, they may go to another doctor, or visit multiple physicians to get prescriptions. This is called doctor shopping. It’s also possible to buy them online or on the street.

Other ways that people can abuse depressants include:

  • Mixing them with alcohol.
  • Mixing them with other drugs (both legal and illegal).
  • Taking too much at one time.
  • Taking doses that are too close together.
  • Chewing the pills instead of swallowing them.
  • Crushing the pills and mixing the powder with a liquid to inject it.
  • Crushing the pills and snorting the powder.

As you might guess, any method of abuse is very dangerous. Snorting or injecting some types of depressants can also be life threatening because it can result in an overdose.

An addiction to depressants occurs once abuse has become a pattern. The body becomes used to having the drug, and if is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can begin.

Drug abuse statistics tell us that 2.2 million people have abused depressants in their lifetimes. It is very easy for that abuse to develop into an addiction. The body adjusts its systems to accommodate the medication, and when the medication is missing, it sends out warnings that it needs more. These warnings are withdrawal symptoms that become increasingly uncomfortable and even painful until you will do anything to get more of the drug.

There are many short-term side effects of depressants, and these can occur any time after they've been started, or once drug abuse begins. Side effects can include:

  • Slower than normal brain function.
  • Lowering of the blood pressure.
  • Difficulty with concentration and focus.
  • Feeling fatigued or sluggish.
  • Slurring speech.
  • Slower pulse and breathing rates.

If these symptoms become more severe, it's possible that addiction has taken place, and you may want to consider drug addiction treatment programs to stop using them safely.

It doesn't take long before you can develop a tolerance to depressants, and when this happens, larger doses are needed to experience any relief from your symptoms. However, this is when addiction can take place. Many people are in denial that they're addicted to depressants, and for them, it can help to understand some of the more common depressants addiction signs, including:

  • Depression
  • Chronically feeling fatigued
  • Problems with breathing
  • Sexual dysfunction issues
  • Sleep difficulties, including nightmares and insomnia

These and other symptoms are clear indicators that there is a need for drug rehab to get help.

Depending on the type of drug that has been used, overdose warning signs may be very different. An overdose can be fatal, and quite often, overdoses happen when someone has tried to stop using a drug on their own, found that they weren't able to, and then gone back to their normal dosage. Tolerance levels can change very rapidly, and from the moment of your last dose, your tolerance starts to adjust. If enough time has passed, your tolerance level decreases, which is what puts so many people at a high risk of overdosing.

Some of the warning signs of overdose include:

  • Dramatically slowed or stopped breathing.
  • No pulse, or a very low heart rate or blood pressure.
  • Feeling confused or disoriented.
  • Fainting or becoming unconscious.
  • Having difficulty speaking.
  • Losing coordination or falling down.
  • Excessive sweating with a very low body temperature.

Anyone who abuses depressants is at a high risk of overdose; and this is especially true if that person has decided to try and stop using them. The best way to guard against depressants overdose is to seek immediate help from a depressants rehab. It is best to intervene before the addiction becomes fatal.

Depressants and Co-occurring Disorders

Depressants are often prescribed to treat mental health conditions. This is just one of the reasons patients are at an increased risk of developing an addiction. People who have a mental health disorder will often try to treat the symptoms on their own. If they receive a prescription medication, they may take more than prescribed or more often.

Depressant Addiction and the Resulting Effects

People who suffer from a mental condition and addiction have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring or co-existing disorders. Many times, it's difficult to get people with this condition to seek help because they think they are handling things. Often, they do well at functioning normally while they are using and no one knows what's going on. However, in time it will be impossible to hide the addiction because it may make the symptoms of the mental health disorder worse.

Getting treatment for both conditions is essential for recovery for the person with a dual diagnosis. Many drug treatment centers offer programs for those with co-occurring disorders. They receive therapy for both conditions and may even be prescribed medication for the symptoms of the mental health condition.

A dual diagnosis (or co-occurring disorder) can happen with any drug addiction and mental health disorder, but it becomes even more common when you're treating a mental condition with an addictive medication. It's important to disclose any personal or family history of mental illness to your doctor and to not try to treat yourself if you suspect you have such a condition.

Depressants: Among the Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Most people would never dream of abusing a prescription drug from their doctor. But the reality is that people do abuse them; sometimes without realizing they are. Any time a person increases their dose on their own, takes too many pills in one day, or mixes them with another substance, it is abuse.

Depressants are among the most abused drugs in the United States. The DEA reported that drug overdose deaths were the leading cause of death related to injuries in 2018. They state that as many as 18.6 million people aged 12 or older abused prescription drugs in 2016.

Depressants can be very effective when they are used appropriately. But there are many doctors who overprescribe them. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to take them for years. This is abuse as well, and there are many people who are addicted to these drugs without their knowledge.

Quitting on Your Own

Sometimes when people find out that they’re addicted, their first instinct is to quit. If that’s how you feel, it’s good, but it’s not something you should do abruptly.

No one should ever attempt to quit taking a depressant drug on their own. This can be very dangerous because of the severity of withdrawals. You need to get professional help to quit safely.

Should You Attempt Quitting Cold Turkey?

Cold turkey quitting is when someone decides to stop using a drug all at once. They don’t taper off, and they don’t take their time. If you’re addicted to depressants, you might be tempted to throw them away and be done with them. This is very dangerous, and it’s not something you should attempt.

You could inadvertently throw yourself into withdrawal. For some people, the symptoms they experience are very mild. However, for others, they can become very severe. You could even suffer from seizures if you decide to quit cold turkey.

Please don’t panic if you didn’t mean to become addicted to your depressant medication. While it’s not ideal, it does happen. You’ll need to talk with a professional about the best way to stop taking them safely.

Common Depressant Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is your body’s way of responding when you stop taking a drug. It’s almost like you’re throwing your body into a state of shock when you quit depressants. This might confuse you because you assumed that getting off the drugs was a good thing. While it is good, it can take you some time to adjust.

You’re likely to experience both physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal. These can include:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Mental confusion
  • Changes in your pulse
  • Changes in your breathing rate
  • Changes in your blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Body spasms
  • Aches and pains
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cravings for the drug

Fortunately, withdrawal doesn’t last forever. The amount of time it takes for depressant drugs to leave the system varies, depending on the medication. However, you will begin to feel better before too long. The good news is that with treatment, the duration of withdrawal can be shortened.

The Withdrawal Timeframe and Progression

The timeline of withdrawal with depressants will vary depending on the type of drug you’re using. Most people tend to follow this timeline as they recover:

  • Symptoms begin within 4 to 12 hours after the final dose.
  • They will be mild at first, and only a few may be present.
  • Over the first few days, they will increase in their severity.
  • Withdrawal usually peaks by about the third day.
  • After the peak, some symptoms will resolve, while others will persist.
  • After about a week, many symptoms will be gone.

It is possible to experience rebound withdrawal symptoms that occur weeks or even months after you’ve quit. They shouldn’t last too long, and overall, you should be feeling much better.

The Professional Approach to Depressant Addiction Recovery

Most people find that they need to go to drug rehab to get help for depressant addiction. It’s best to find a facility that is based on modern therapeutic methods.

This way, you’ll receive well-rounded therapy options that will meet your unique needs. You’ll benefit from an individualized treatment plan and that will ensure that you get the best care possible.

Every drug rehab has their own approach to treatment. However, there are some components that are considered a vital part of the treatment plan, such as:

  • Detoxification services to address the physical part of the addiction.
  • Addiction therapy that identifies the underlying cause of the addiction. That way, healing from the psychological aspect of it can take place.
  • Group therapy that promotes peer counseling and support for the addict.
  • Nutritional and wellness therapy that promotes overall good health.
  • Activities that provide stability, build skills and offer hope to addicts.
  • Relapse prevention treatment that prepares patients for what to do should a relapse threaten to occur.
  • Family sessions that involve families in the overall treatment process.

Depressant Detox in a Professional Setting

Detoxing is the first step you’ll be taking as you begin your depressant addiction treatment. It’s necessary to address the physical aspect of your substance abuse problem first. This is because you’ll be going through withdrawal, and that can be dangerous if it’s not treated appropriately.

Drug detox has a few different goals. The first goal will be to safely get you off your medications. Your medical team will be focused on avoiding any potential complications that might occur. The second goal is to help you remain comfortable as the drug and any associating toxins leave your body.

It might be tempting to think that you’re strong enough to manage without detoxing first. Quitting the use of depressants takes a lot more than just willpower. It often requires you to have medical treatments that will make it easier for you to quit. There are a few different methods that professionals use during the detoxification process.

Undergoing medical detoxification means that you’ll be taking medications as you recover. For many people on depressants, they’ll also taper off the drug before it’s stopped completely. This gives your body some time to adjust to having smaller doses in your system.

You may be given other medications to help you with your symptoms. For instance, you may be offered a drug to help you avoid seizures. If you begin to get depressed, an antidepressant may be prescribed.

Any medications you take during detox are intended for short-term use only. Your doctor will know when the right time to stop them is.

Holistic detox is a method that is being used more and more often today. Your treatment team will also be focused on improving your overall health. This means that you’ll most likely meet with a nutritionist to assess and make changes to your diet. You’ll begin a regular exercise program. You may start participating in Yoga or daily meditation therapy.

The wonderful thing about the human body is its ability to heal itself. Your liver and kidneys were designed to get rid of toxins that don’t belong. When you improve your health, they’re better equipped to do their jobs. This is why holistic detoxification is so valuable, and should always be implemented.

Of course, there are also other methods of detoxification that you could utilize instead. Sometimes people have the desire to take matters into their own hands and detox on their own. This can involve some risky practices, such as:

  • Tapering off their medications on their own.
  • Quitting cold turkey with a better diet of whole foods.
  • Using supplements to help with their symptoms.
  • Taking vitamins to improve their health.
  • Using a drug detox kit bought online or from a pharmacy.

Many products on the market today make grand promises about their detoxification abilities. The fact is that they’re not FDA approved, which means they’re not safe. It’s best to utilize tried and true methods that have worked for others with depressant addiction.

Going to Rehab After You Have Detoxed

After you have gone through the detox process, you’ll be ready to go to drug rehab. This is a vital part of your recovery, so please don’t skip it. You may think it’s OK to forgo further treatment because you’re feeling better. Please trust us when we say that you have a lot more healing to do.

During drug rehab, you’ll begin working on the mental aspect of your addiction. You may not realize it, but there is a part of your brain that worries about quitting depressants. You may even think that you can’t survive without them. You’ll learn that the exact opposite is true when you get treatment.

Not only that, but you’ll learn how to live without using these drugs. The staff will teach you different and better coping skills. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever fit depressants into your life in the first place.

The Cost of Drug Detox and Rehab for Depressant Addictions

The cost of treatment is often a major reason why so many people with addictions don’t get help. Many of them assume that they will have to pay for the entire cost of rehab out of their own pockets. This just isn’t the case.

Health insurance companies are now required to provide benefits for people to receive addiction treatment services. This includes people seeking help for an addiction to depressant drugs. The new law that makes this possible is called The Affordable Care Act. Many times, people aren’t aware of this dramatic shift in the healthcare industry. As a result, they fail to get the help they need.

While this change has been so helpful for so many, there are still those who need to be made aware that they have these benefits. In fact, in many cases, patients end up not needing to pay anything out of their own pockets.

Should Depressant Addicts Seek Out Inpatient Treatment?

For many people with depressant addictions, inpatient rehab is the best option available to them. Not only does it provide them with all the support they need, but it allows them to focus solely on recovering. This is important because there are so many life distractions that can get in the way. Committing to an inpatient program takes those distractions away temporarily and helps people focus on what they need to do to heal.

During inpatient treatment, patients benefit from having staff available to them at all hours of the day or night. When they are struggling, there is always someone there to talk with them and help.

Inpatient programs also make it virtually impossible for patients to relapse. Most people would like to believe that they have enough willpower, but that alone is not enough to beat an addiction. They may have the best of intentions, but when they are presented with an opportunity to use, withdrawal will urge them to take it.

Northpoint Washington Offers a Top-Quality Drug Detox and Rehab Program

At Northpoint Washington, we have one of the best inpatient drug detox and rehab programs in Washington State. Our facility is celebrated in the northwest region because of our commitment to caring for our patients. We believe that inpatient treatment offers our patients the best possible chance of being successful in recovering from their addictions.

When patients come to us with depressant addictions, they typically enter into detox right away. We want to help them get off the drug they have been using the right way. This usually means starting with a medical taper to minimize the severity of withdrawal. After that, medical and holistic detox treatments are provided.

But detoxing is not the end of their treatment. It only lasts for about a week or so, and then our patients move on to our in-house rehab program.

We are located in Edmonds, Washington, and we are a smaller, 28-day facility. This allows us to give more of our attention to our patients so they get the help they need.

Every patient we work with has their own unique needs when it comes to treatment. We know the importance of talking with them at length so that we can understand what those needs are. Once we do, we know how to design their personalized treatment plan.

We offer many different types of therapy and treatment for our patients. For instance, they may be in need of:

The methods we use to treat our patients have been proven to be effective. Our patients not only get help with their withdrawal symptoms, but they also learn about the intimacies of their addictions. They find out why they started using and they get the help they need to stop.

Depressant Addiction and the Resulting Effects

A Final Word on Depressant Addiction, Abuse and Treatment for Recovery

At Northpoint Washington, we have worked with patients from all walks of life. We know that everyone experiences addiction differently, which is why a personalized approach to treatment is necessary. We are committed to always giving our patients the best treatment available.

Recovering from an addiction to depressants can be very difficult. But it is nothing to be ashamed of. So many people get addicted to these drugs without even realizing that it is possible. But with the right support, they can leave that life behind for good.

Do you need to know more about depressant abuse and addiction? Would you like information about detox and rehab and what options for treatment are right for you? Please contact us today.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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