Depressant Addiction: Abuse, the Risks and Your Recovery

Depressant drugs are some of the most dangerous on the market. However, they’re often not viewed that way because they’re available by prescription. If you’re addicted to one of these medications, the risks are very real. Stopping their use is likely to result in withdrawal, which can be both physically and mentally painful.

Depressants are often referred to as barbiturates, downers, tranquilizers, sedatives and benzodiazepines. There are several different types, but they all work the same way in the central nervous system.

These medications have claimed the lives of some of the world’s most well loved celebrities. For instance:

  • Marilyn Monroe died of a barbiturate overdose in 1962. Some say it was a suicide, while others claim it was accidental, or perhaps foul play. To this day, the details of her death remain a mystery.
  • Judy Garland overdosed on sleeping pills in 1969 at the age of 47. Her husband didn’t believe it was an intentional suicide, but the actress had suffered from severe mental illness.
  • Edie Sedgwick died after overdosing on barbiturates in 1971. She had been given pain medications after suffering from an injury. She had a long history of drug and alcohol addiction, but had been clean for years.
  • Jimi Hendrix passed away after overdosing on sleeping pills in 1970. He was only 27 years old, and at the height of his musical career when he died. He was a heavy drinker and drug user, and tended to favor LSD.
  • Elvis Presley died in 1977 at his home, Graceland, in Tennessee. The autopsy found at least eight different narcotics in his body, including barbiturates. Elvis was a household name during his career, and his death was a tragic loss.

There are many risks involved with using depressant drugs. It’s possible to overdose without meaning to, and sadly, some people do. Fortunately, there is a way to recover if you’re addicted to them.

You don’t need to remain imprisoned to barbiturates, benzos, or other types of depressants. Getting the help you need now may save your life, and it will definitely improve your quality of life.

What are Depressant Drugs?

Depressants are medications that a doctor can prescribe to treat many different ailments. They usually come in multi-colored tablets or capsules, but they can come in liquid form. They vary in their potency, and some are stronger than others, even in smaller doses. Even though most of these drugs are only available by prescription, they can be made and sold on the black market.

Some of the most common depressants include:

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

These and others in this classification work by inhibiting the function of the central nervous system. They are the most highly prescribed drugs in the world.

Depressants, sedatives and tranquilizers can be used to treat a few different disorders. They’re often used to treat anxiety; usually when other drugs don’t work. They can be used to treat depression, insomnia and obsessive-compulsive disorder as well. Some doctors will also use them to treat seizures.

In the body, these medications work by increasing GABA activity. GABA is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between cells. By increasing their activity, the activity of the brain is reduced. This results in a feeling of relaxation, and why these drugs work as well as they do.

The following is a fun, but informative video that explains in more detail how depressants work:

Because depressants are drugs of abuse, they are found under many different street names. These include:

  • Barbs
  • Candy
  • Phennies
  • Red Birds
  • Tooies
  • Tranks
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Downers

These names can make the drugs seem harmless, but they’re anything but safe. They should only be used for short periods of time, and only under a doctor’s supervision.

How Easy is it to Get Sedative Drugs?

Because of our country’s current opioid epidemic, it’s much easier to obtain sedative drugs than it used to be. Most doctors would rather prescribe benzodiazepines and tranquilizers than other medications. The risk of addiction is much lower than with opioid drugs, but it’s still there.

There are physicians who will prescribe sedatives in excess. Consider the case of one Iowa psychiatrist who was recently fined for carelessly prescribing pills. He was offering them to his patients, his family, and even prescribing them for himself.

Many of his patients had long histories of drug or alcohol abuse, according to the Iowa Board of Medicine. Some were addicted to painkillers, while others were alcoholics. Both situations should have been a cause for alarm because benzos should never be mixed with either.

It’s also not difficult to remain on sedatives or depressants for long periods of time. Quite often, doctors will refuse to take their patients off them because they seem to be working. As a result, people can become addicted to them without meaning to. Many people don’t even know how addictive they are.

It is possible to find benzodiazepine drugs on the street, and for many people, these are their drugs of choice. There are also fake versions out there, and these powerful substances are deadly.

One example of this is called the Super Pill, and it’s a fake version of Xanax. This drug contains a powerful dose of Fentanyl, and it’s cheap and readily available. As of 2016, this drug had killed nine people in Tampa, Florida, and three people in San Francisco, California.

There is real danger involved with purchasing drugs on the street. You never really know what you’re getting, even if you know the dealer very well. Yet, people still do it every single day.

Depressant Side Effects

Because depressants are psychoactive drugs, they carry a long list of side effectsThe DEA states that these include:

  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Anxiety relief
  • Relief for muscle spasms
  • Reducing reaction time
  • Causing amnesia
  • Impaired mental function
  • Impaired judgment
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Weakness in the body
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slower breathing rates

Some of these side effects will only be short-lived. However, others may continue to get worse over time. For someone who is taking depressants only short-term, they shouldn’t cause any real problems.

The short-term effects of depressants are usually what attracts people to them. This is especially true when they are misusing them for recreational purposes. Taking these drugs for a short period of time is likely to result in:

  • Slower brain function
  • Sensations of euphoria
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Visual disturbances
  • Disorientation
  • Relaxation
  • Sleepiness and improved sleep

As we said earlier, it’s common for people to take these drugs longer than they should. Even if your doctor says it’s OK, taking a depressant medication for a long time can be dangerous. It’s best to stop before you become hooked on it.

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.

Depressant Rehab Information

How do People Get Addicted?

People get addicted to depressants once they have been abusing them for too long. Many individuals don’t realize how highly addictive they really are. Take Xanax for example. This medication is one of the most prescribed drugs on the market. It’s possible to become addicted to it, even if you take it for a short time, according to doctor’s orders.

Once someone begins abusing a depressant drug, it’s just a matter of time until an addiction forms. Once it does, they will feel as though they can’t live without taking it. It will quickly consume their lives, and they’ll go through withdrawal if they don’t have it.

This is a great video that explains Xanax addiction and how prevalent it has become:

Depressants can cause serious effects when they’re taken too long. The first sign that something is wrong is usually forming a tolerance. This means that the individual is no longer able to get the same effects from their usual dose of the drug. To compensate for this, they’ll usually increase their dose, or mix their medication with alcohol or another drug.

Continued use can lead to significant brain impairment. People may begin to show signs of psychosis, including have hallucinations or delusions. This is especially true for elderly people, who often take these drugs for years at a time.

Finally, it often doesn’t take long before someone to become addicted to depressant drugs. They can quickly become dependent on them after as little as a few weeks of regular use.

The additional long-term effects of depressants include:

  • The onset of depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Sexual issues

Not everyone realizes that they’ve gotten addicted to their depressant medications. In fact, it’s common for people to live in denial about it for years before they come to terms with it. This could be your situation, and if it is, it helps to know how to identify an addiction.

You could be addicted to benzos, tranquilizers and other depressants if you:

  • Go through withdrawal when you miss a dose.
  • Have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Are secretive about your substance use.
  • Continue to use them even though you’re experiencing negative consequences.
  • Are struggling to be productive in your job.
  • Experience periods of depression.
  • Have frequent mood swings.
  • Have lost interest in your personal hygiene.
  • Have frequent blackouts.
  • Exhibit poor behavior that you always feel guilty about later on.

If you have any of these signs, you’re probably addicted to your medications. If you’re still not sure, you may want to consider taking a quiz to find out if you’re an addict.

You can also talk with a professional and explain your situation. They’ll ask you questions about the drugs you use, how long you’ve been using them, and your behaviors. Many drug treatment programs offer free phone assessments for this purpose. Sometimes it can just put your mind at ease to hear the truth from another person who is a professional.

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.

Getting Treatment for a Possible Co-Occurring Disorder

During your rehab stay, your therapist will decide if you’re suffering from a co-occurring disorder. You may already know that you are if you’ve been prescribed a depressant medication.

A co-occurring disorder is a mental health condition that can occur simultaneously with addiction. People are often given these drugs to treat anxiety, and that’s one of the most common conditions.

It’s also possible that you have a mental health issue that you’re not aware of. You could be suffering from:

It’s typical for people to use drugs like depressants to treat their symptoms when they have mental health problems. This could be the underlying reason for your addiction. If it is, it needs to be treated the right way. Otherwise, it’s very likely that you’ll go back to using once rehab is over.

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.

Crack Cocaine Addiction and Treatment

How You Can Find Depressant Treatment Right Away

It is our hope that you realize how important it is to get help if you’re suffering from a depressant addiction. Here at Northpoint Recovery, we can provide you with the detox and treatment services you need to recover.

Our success rates are very high when compared to other treatment programs in our region. We are always careful to address the root cause of the addiction so that healing can take place. When our patients are compliant, it is very likely that they will experience long-term recovery.

You don’t need to continue to suffer with an addiction to depressant medications. There is hope, and you’re not fighting this fight on your own. Allow us to provide you with the support you need to make your recovery a reality.

Do you need to know more about depression addiction, withdrawal or treatment? We’re here to answer your questions. We can even help you get detox and rehab set up over the phone. 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.

(888) 663-7106 Contact Us