Health care providers commonly prescribe sedatives to treat various conditions such as anxiety, seizures, panic disorders and sleep disorders. If your physician has recommended taking a medication like Xanax, Valium, Ativan or Lunesta, you may assume there’s no risk involved in taking these drugs under a doctor’s orders. However, you should be aware that sedatives can have some dangerous side effects, and they carry the potential for dependency, tolerance and addiction.
How Do Sedatives Work?
Sedatives are central nervous system depressants that make users feel relaxed and drowsy. Taking these drugs causes short-term effects like decreased alertness, disorientation, slurred speech, balance loss and impaired coordination. Combining these medications with alcohol can magnify their impact and may increase the risk of an accidental drug overdose.
All prescription sedatives and tranquilizers work by slowing brain activity. That means if you decrease your dosage or quit using your medication altogether, there can be a rebound effect, possibly leading to harmful consequences.
If you take drugs such as benzodiazepines for more than a few days, you could discover you have trouble falling and staying asleep without them. When trying to stop using these medications, you might experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, disturbing dreams or feeling irritable when you wake up. More severe sedative withdrawal symptoms may include rapid breathing and heart rate, confusion and seizures.
Risk of Misuse and Abuse
How can you tell if your use of anti-anxiety medication or sleeping pills is progressing into an addiction? Primarily, you should notice if your tolerance has grown to the point where it takes increasingly larger doses to achieve the same desirable effects. You might have also experimented with combining sedatives with other drugs in pursuit of a more potent euphoria.
People who abuse sedatives might exhibit the following behavioral red flags:
- Using someone else’s prescription medication illegally
- Lying to their health care provider, forging prescriptions or “doctor shopping” in hopes of getting more drugs
- Continuing to take drugs, despite the negative effects it has on their life
- Neglecting their hygiene, hobbies and responsibilities in favor of using sedatives
- Making unsafe decisions, such as driving under the influence, due to impaired judgment
- Obsessively worrying about where they’ll obtain their next dose
- Spending inordinate amounts of time misusing substances
Sedative Addiction Recovery in Taos, New Mexico
If you’ve become overly dependent on prescription sedatives, you should be aware of your treatment options. Trying to overcome a substance misuse disorder on your own can be dangerous, due to the range of painful withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting sedatives cold turkey.
Enrolling in an accredited inpatient treatment facility like Vista Taos can help you break the cycle of addiction. A full continuum of care, starting with prescription drug detox, will help you safely clear your body and brain of drugs. Once you complete this essential stage, you’ll be ready to move on to the next steps of your holistic rehab journey, which will include therapy to help you address the underlying cause of your substance abuse disorder. To learn more about starting your recovery journey with us, reach out today.