Depressant prescription drugs, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines, provide relief for people struggling with anxiety, high stress, and sleep disturbances. The drugs are potentially addictive, and individuals should be careful to only use their prescription depressants as directed. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Prolonged use of depressants can lead to physical dependence even at doses recommended for medical treatment.” Exclusive Hawaii Rehab uses evidence-based methods to treat substance use disorder (SUD) related to prescription depressants and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

What Are Depressant Prescription Drugs?

Depressant drugs slow activity in some regions of the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants are medicines that include sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics.” The effect reduces automatic stress responses and relaxes muscles.

Some of the most commonly prescribed depressants include:

  • Benzodiazepines: diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), triazolam (Halcion), estazolam (Prosom)
  • Non-benzodiazepines sedatives: zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Barbiturates: mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal), pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)

Each drug has unique side effects. The risk of dependency and addictive behaviors increases significantly if depressants are being used to treat severe or complex mental health symptoms. In addition, the side effects increase in severity if individuals misuse alcohol or other substances.

Dangers of Misusing Depressants and Alcohol or Other Drugs

People who misuse depressant prescription drugs may have co-occurring alcohol use disorder (AUD). Combining alcohol and depressants can cause serious health complications, injury, or death. Even social drinking is risky for individuals misusing prescription depressants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Whether intentional or not, using alcohol and other substances is unsafe because the effects may be stronger and more unpredictable than one drug alone, and even deadly.”

Some of the side effects individuals may experience if they misuse alcohol and depressants simultaneously  include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Decreased coordination and balance
  • Fainting
  • Extreme drowsiness, increasing the risk of experiencing accidents or injuries
  • Difficulty breathing

The harmful interaction of alcohol and prescription depressants adversely affects the brain, heart, and other organs.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Signs of Potential Dependency or Addiction

People misuse prescription drugs for many reasons, including to self-medicate undiagnosed mental health disorders or to cope with chronic stress. According to NIDA, in 2021, “5.1% (or about 14.3 million people) reported misusing any prescription psychotherapeutic drug.” Depressants are especially dangerous when taken with other substances or in any way other than directed. NIDA reported, “In 2021, approximately 12,499 people died from an overdose involving benzodiazepines.” Being able to recognize the signs of medication misuse helps individuals and families reduce the risk of overdose and other severe health side effects.

Some signs a person may be misusing prescription depressants include:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • “Doctor shopping”
  • Stockpiling medication
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty coordinating movements
  • Lethargy
  • Slowed thought and speech patterns

The symptoms vary depending on various factors, including any co-occurring mental health disorders or other health issues.

What Is Doctor Shopping?

“Doctor shopping” is when someone visits multiple doctors attempting to get more than one prescription for the same drug. Individuals addicted to prescription medications often hoard the medicine for future use, and they may “doctor shop” to gain an excessive amount of the drug.

Online prescription mills and telehealth clinics are popular options for individuals trying to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same drug. Numerous subscriptions to prescription websites or frequent use of telehealth services may indicate someone is “doctor shopping” and developing a dependency or addiction to their medication.

Health Side Effects of Misusing Depressant Prescription Drugs

Every drug has different potential side effects. Depressants affect brain chemistry, heart function, and other organs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Research has shown that there is a common misperception in the United States that prescription drug misuse is without risk because prescription drugs are regulated pharmaceuticals with legal, medical uses.” Many people are unaware of the danger they put themselves in when they misuse prescribed medications like depressants.

The health side effects vary considerably depending on a wide range of factors, including how long the substance was misused and the individual’s overall health. The most common health side effects of misusing depressant medications include:

  • Loss of motor function
  • Disordered speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness, vertigo, or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle weakness

The presence of alcohol or other drugs may cause more severe symptoms and increase the risk of accidental overdose.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Treatment Programs and Services at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

The clinical team at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab offers clients a full continuum of care to ensure individuals have the level of support they need to address core root issues affecting their sobriety and mental health. Clients and their families collaborate with the care team to create personalized treatment programs that meet their unique needs and preferences.

The treatment programs and services at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab include:

  • Interventions
  • Detox
  • Stabilization
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • MAT management/withdrawal
  • Residential
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Aftercare planning
  • Alumni services

The clinical team prioritizes holistic treatments to help clients heal, grow, and thrive during their recovery journey.