Sedative Dependence

Sedative dependence is a very serious condition. All sedatives are addictive tablets that can cause physiological and psychological dependence when taken regularly over a period of time, even at therapeutic doses.

Dependent users may get withdrawal symptoms ranging from restlessness and insomnia to convulsions and death.

When users become psychologically dependent, they feel as if they need the drug to function, although physical dependence does not necessarily occur, particularly with a short course of use.

In both types of dependencies, finding and using the sedative becomes the focus in life. Both physical and psychological dependence can be treated with therapy.

What are Sedatives

A sedative is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement.

At higher doses it may result in slurred speech, staggering gait, poor judgment, and slow, uncertain reflexes.

Doctors often administer sedatives to patients in order to dull the patient’s anxiety related to painful or anxiety-provoking procedures.

Although sedatives do not relieve pain in themselves, they can be a useful adjunct to analgesics in preparing patients for surgery, and are commonly given to patients before they are anaesthetized, or before other highly uncomfortable and invasive procedures like cardiac catheterization, colonoscopy or MRI.

They increase tractability and compliance of children or troublesome or demanding patients.

Patients in intensive care units are almost always sedated (unless they are unconscious from their condition anyway).

Doses of sedatives such as benzodiazepines when used as a hypnotic to induce sleep tend to be higher than those used to relieve anxiety where as only low doses are needed to provide calming sedative effects.

Sedatives (addictive tablets) can be abused to produce an overly-calming effect (alcohol being the classic and most common sedating drug).

At high doses or when they are abused, many of sedative drugs can cause unconsciousness and even death.

There is some overlap between the terms sedative and hypnotic. Although the effects described by the two terms are different, the medications that cause the effects described by one term often also cause the effects described by the other term.

However, advances in pharmacology have permitted more specific targeting of receptors. Same goes for greater selectivity of agents, which necessitates greater precision when describing these agents and their effects:

  • Anxiolytic refer specifically to the effect upon anxiety. (However, some benzodiazipines are sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics.)
  • Tranquilizer can refer to anxiolytics or antipsychotics.
  • Soporific and sleeping pill are near-synonyms for hypnotics.
    Sedation can sometimes leave the patient with long-term or short-term amnesia.

Lorazepam is one such pharmacological agent that can cause anterograde amnesia. Intensive care unit patients who receive higher doses over longer periods of time, typically via IV drip, are more likely to experience such side effects.

Sedative dependence

Signs and Symptoms of Sedative Dependence

The strongest indicator of a sedative addiction is the inability to stop thinking about the medication. However, a wide range of behavioral, physical, and psychological symptoms are also present.

Behavioral symptoms  of sedative addictions:

  1. Taking higher dosages of the medication, or using it for a longer duration than prescribed
  2. Using sedatives with alcohol
  3. Attempting to borrow or steal prescriptions for sedatives
  4. Trying to acquire multiple prescriptions for sedatives
  5. Lying about your sedative abuse
  6. Aggression

Physical symptoms of sedative addiction:

  1. Funny speech
  2. Slow, or shallow breathing
  3. Lowered pulse
  4. Drop in blood pressure
  5. Issues with coordination

Psychological symptoms of sedative dependence:

  1. Confusion
  2. Cognitive deficiencies
  3. Irritability
  4. Depression
  5. Paranoia
  6. Inability to focus and/or concentrate
  7. Impaired judgment
  8. Impaired memory
  9. Anxiety
  10. Withdrawal symptoms
  11. Mood swings

List of Addictive Tablets

• Barbiturates
o amobarbital (Amytal)
o pentobarbital (Nembutal)
o secobarbital (Seconal)
o Phenobarbitol (Luminal)

• Benzodiazepines (trade names)
o clonazepam (Klonopin N.America Rivotril Europe, Asia )
o diazepam (Valium)
o estazolam (Prosom)
o flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
o lorazepam (Ativan)
o midazolam (Versed)
o nitrazepam (Mogadon)
o oxazepam (Serax)
o triazolam (Halcion)
o temazepam (Restoril, Normison, Planum, Tenox, and Temaze)
o chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
o alprazolam (Xanax)

• Nonbenzodiazepine “Z-drugs” sedatives
o eszopiclone (Lunesta)
o zaleplon (Sonata)
o zolpidem (Ambien)
o zopiclone (Imovane, Zimovane)