Sometimes called “downers” or “benzos” (short for benzodiazepine), these drugs come in tablet, capsule or liquid form. Some drugs in this category include Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Librium, Ativan, Klonopin, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Seconal, Phenobarbital, Amytal, and Haldol.
The effects of depressants are similar to alcohol and can range from very short to very long-lasting. Users can rapidly develop a high tolerance for these drugs, increasing their need for escalating dosages to maintain the desired effect. As dependency on the drug increases, users frequently experience cravings, anxiety, and panic.
If you’re concerned that your loved one may be using these drugs on a regular basis, please contact an addiction treatment professional to discuss treatment options and next steps.
How Sedatives Affect the Brain
Sedatives directly impact the brain by promoting the production of particular neurotransmitter chemicals that slow down activity. For example, benzodiazepines produce the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, which creates a state of fatigue, memory loss, pain reduction, and reduced emotional volatility.
Because sedatives slow down the brain and body in a similar way to alcohol, it's important that users do not combine these drugs, as this can result in an overdose and lead to coma or even death.
Signs of Sedative, Hypnotic and Depressant Addiction
Though this category represents a diverse array of drugs with differing effects, common signs and symptoms of sedative and depressant addiction include:
- Symptoms of alcohol intoxication with no alcohol consumption
- Lack of facial expression or animation
- Flat affect
- Slurred speech
- Slow brain function
- Lowered blood pressure
- Visual disturbances
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty or inability to urinate
- Dilated pupils
- Memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts