Treatment for Depressant Addiction

What is a depressant?

A depressant is a substance that decreases activity in the central nervous system. Body functions, including brain activity, slow down. Because of this, depressants are often called downers. Examples include opiates and opioids, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

If used improperly these drugs can be highly addictive. Depressant withdrawal symptoms may be extremely harmful and even life threatening. Those seeking to overcome depressant addiction should do so with professional help.

What is a type of depressant?

Different types of depressants include alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications.


Alcohol is the most commonly used depressant. According to The New York Times “people have been drinking alcoholic beverages since prehistoric times.” Alcohol abuse can cause serious health problems including liver disease, dementia and cardiac disease. People using alcohol may experience feelings of euphoria. Alcohol may also produce drowsiness and slurred speech. When ingested in extreme quantities it can cause a person to lapse into a coma. It can also cause respiratory failure and death. When under the influence of alcohol people are less able to perform complex tasks including driving an automobile. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2003 and 2012, 8,476 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in the state of Florida.


Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are also depressants. They are commonly prescribed as short-term treatments for anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorders. These drugs are highly addicitive. Withdrawal from benzodiazepine addiction may result in seizures and psychotic reactions and should not be attempted without proper medical supervision.

Benzodiazepines can be divided into three classes: short, medium and long acting.

  • Serax and Xanax are examples of short-acting benzodiazepines. They have higher addiction potentials and can cause withdrawal seizures if, after taking for a long duration, they are stopped immediately.
  • Medium-acting benzodiazepines include Ativan and Restoril.
  • Long-acting benzodiazepines include Valium and Klonopin. Long-acting benzodiazepines have less addictive potential and are commonly used to wean individuals off of short-acting benzodiazepines and alcohol. Additionally, they can be used for the treatment of seizure disorders.
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Barbiturates are similar in structure to benzodiazepines and also have strong addiction potential, but they are not as common in medical practice. Barbiturates include mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium) and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal). They have a higher addictive potential than benzodiazepines and are used in surgical procedures as anesthetics.

Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications

Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications include zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata). They have a different chemical structure, but act on some of the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines. They are less addictive than benzodiazepines and do not cause seizures if suddenly stopped. Therefore, individuals do not need to be weaned off of these sleep aids. Like all sleep aids, these should be used for short-term use only.

Side effects of depressants

Some of the different side effects of depressants can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Balance problems
  • Sluggish speech
  • Decreased mental arousal
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Decreased inhibition

Alcohol and benzodiazepines are extremely addictive and, although death from overdose rarely occurs, death from withdrawal is quite common. Immediate cessation from using these substances can result in life-threatening seizures. To be safely weaned off of depressants, it is extremely important not to abruptly discontinue use, but rather to utilize a prescribed, slow taper over time under medical supervision.

Treatment for depressant addiction at Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of Florida provides comprehensive types of treatment for addiction to depressants. Depending on the needs of the patient we can provide detox services along with effective treatment after a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation to help identify and underlying issues that could be contributing to the patient’s addiction. We supervise patients throughout the entire detoxification process to ensure their safety while being weaned off of these drugs.

Our treatment programs for depressant addiction can include the use of medication to help combat cravings. They also use different therapeutic methods such as group and individual therapy to help patients gain a long-lasting recovery.

For more information about our depressant addiction treatment programs, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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