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Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are a group of medicines including sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers, used to slow down the brain. These are prescribed for the management of panic, anxiety, acute stress, and sleep disorders. Sedatives are used to treat sleep disorders; hypnotics induce sleep; whereas, tranquilizers are used for managing acute stress and muscle spasms. All these drugs can cause drowsiness.

Classification of Depressants

CNS depressants are of three types. Benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sedative and hypnotics, and barbiturates:

  • Benzodiazepines – Examples include diazepam, clonazepam, alprazolam, triazolam, estazolam
  • Sedatives and hypnotics – Examples includezolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon
  • Barbiturates – Examples like mephobarbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital sodium

One can abuse these drugs by taking someone else’s medicine or by taking an increased amount of medicine for fun. Even using such medicines for purposes other than prescribed by a doctor can be classified as misuse. One can also abuse these drugs by taking them with alcohol or prescription opioids.

Depressant Use in Teens

Teens often turn to depressants in order to feel high, however, depressants cause the opposite effect. Larger or improper doses of depressants can cause loss of coordination, confusion, slowed heart rate, and low blood pressure in teens. They may also develop slurred speech, may find it difficult to concentrate and may even fall asleep at school. These drugs are addictive and withdrawal symptoms may cause sleeplessness, anxiety, and seizures. In addition, it is highly dangerous to take these drugs with alcohol, also a depressant.

Effects of Depressants on the Brain

CNS depressants function by acting on a chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA inhibits brain activity, leading to feelings of calm and drowsiness. People, who start with CNS depressants, feel disoriented and sleepy for the initial few days till the time their bodies get adjusted to the side effects. The use and misuse of these drugs can cause other effects such as:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Poor concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Light-headedness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Problems with memory and movement

Long-term depressant use can lead to the need of having larger doses for achieving the same therapeutic effects. It can also lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms if the use is stopped abruptly. Sudden cessation of the drug might also lead to seizures. An overdose on antidepressants can lead to life-threatening consequences. It can cause slowed breathing or the breathing can stop entirely. This can decrease the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, a condition called hypoxia, leading to debilitating outcomes like coma or permanent brain damage.

Addiction to CNS Depressants

Long-term use of CNS depressants can lead to substance use disorder which can lead to addiction. Long-term depressant use is also associated with the development of tolerance in which larger or frequent doses are necessitated to produce the desired effects. An addiction to depressants can lead to negative consequences like compromised performance at school, relationship problems, trouble with the law, etc. Stopping drug use abruptly can lead to several withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Shakiness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Intense cravings
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Overactive reflexes

There is a dearth of research on treating people with CNS depressant addiction. However, a person addicted to these drugs must undergo a medically supervised detox program to avoid suffering from the withdrawal symptoms. Also, inpatient or an outpatient counseling program can be an effective tool for addressing the deep-rooted problem.

Depressant Addiction Treatment

Abuse of high doses of CNS depressants can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Due to their addictive nature and the ability to cause uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms, it is prudent to seek treatment for depressant addiction under supervised medical care.

An inclusive treatment plan for depressant addiction involves medically supervised depressant detox treatment followed by counseling sessions and experiential therapies. While the detoxification treatment allows the drugs to exit the system and manage drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, counseling sessions help uncover any underlying mental or physical causes of drug addiction, leading to dual diagnosis.

Why Choose ADEONA Healthcare

ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego offers various types of treatment for addiction to CNS depressants. A thorough evaluation during the admission process helps identify all the co-occurring issues and design a treatment plan as per the needs of the teen patient.

The adolescent treatment programs offered at Rancho San Diego utilize research-backed treatment modalities under the guidance of experienced behavioral health specialists. In addition to medically supervised detox programs, adolescents receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in a safe and secure environment to treat addiction to CNS depressants and other substance use disorders. Teens also receive individual and group therapies, psychoeducation, and complementary and experiential treatments like yoga, art, and meditation. Throughout the treatment process, families of troubled teenagers also receive education and support they need to continually encourage their loved ones tread the path to recovery.

To know more about the addiction treatment programs offered at ADEONA Healthcare call our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966. You can also chat online with our representatives for further assistance on choosing the best depressant detox plan for your teen.

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