Depressants are a group of drugs that depress the Central Nervous System (CNS), most by binding to receptors for the inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA. This increases the amount of GABA in the brain and GABA is known for its effects of drowsiness and relaxation. Overall, most depressants are also known to induce effects like:
- Slower thinking, breathing, and heartbeat
- Dizziness and lack of coordination
- Low blood pressure
- Confusion, drowsiness, depression
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty with concentration
Although if the person takes excessive amounts of depressants, that person may also experience impairments in memory and judgments along with paranoia, aggression, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. At this point, many will need substance abuse help. The three main types of depressants are alcohol, sedative-hypnotics, and opioids.
The Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol is the most well-known depressant and probably the most widely used drug that’s legal. While moderate drinking can be safe, not everyone drinks responsibly and may find themselves in need of rehab for drinking if they start drinking too often. When someone starts drinking alcohol, the first thing they will notice is a growing sense of relaxation within 10 minutes. Not everyone who drinks will have slurred speech or trouble walking because these effects depend on how much someone drinks.
If you drink a lot of alcohol in one sitting, especially shots of liquor or whiskey, then you will eventually start feeling tipsy. Your inhibitions and judgments will decrease so that you do not care about anything as much. If you had social anxiety before, it will probably seem to go away after drinking enough alcohol. This is one of the reasons some people may become dependent on alcohol to function. To them, alcohol becomes medicine for reducing anxiety.
The Effects of Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs
Sedatives induce calmness while hypnotics cause drowsiness for the natural sleep cycle we enter each night. Sedative-hypnotics are able to induce these effects simultaneously, which is why doctors have used these drugs for many years to treat mental disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), general anxiety, insomnia, seizure control, and as anesthesia before a surgical operation.
Three major types of sedative-hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other non-categorical drugs that produce the same or similar effects. These drugs are prescribed and taken in pill or liquid form and can be given to patients by general doctors and psychiatrists. 30% of prescribed substances prescribed are benzodiazepines, a sedative drug. Barbiturates were invented before benzodiazepines, but have been discouraged over the years and replaced by benzodiazepines because of how fast someone can build up a tolerance to barbiturates. Tolerance increases one’s chances of developing a substance addiction.
The Effects of Opioids
Most people have already heard about the opioid epidemic spreading in America. This is an unfortunate consequence of doctors with little training in psychology, prescribing opioid painkillers to patients. Although, it is not just the doctors, in some cases, patients take advantage of their prescription and may take an extra pill or liquid dose to get a slight high. In either case, opioids bind to the same receptors in the brain as endorphins do. Endorphins are the natural painkillers of the body and without them, we would continue to experience pain past a reasonable amount of time needed to know something is wrong with our body.
As a result of opioids acting like natural endorphins, anyone who takes opioids will feel extremely relaxed, drowsy, free of physical or mental pain, and will feel zoned out. Prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol are given for pain after surgery, a major injury, chronic pain, or dental pain.
When Alcohol Becomes Dangerous
When someone starts drinking more than 5 drinks a day for most of the month, every year, then drinking alcohol can change from a fun way to relax to a variety of safety and health risks for the drinker. Once people reach a certain point of alcohol intoxication, usually at around 0.08% BAC, their sense of self-control and judgment will be so impaired that they may become aggressive, take part in dangerous activities, or have unsafe sex. This is why having a level of 0.08% BAC is considered illegal when driving.
In terms of health, chronic alcohol use has been reported to lead to heart and liver disease. Chronic drinkers are prone to strokes, memory problems that may develop into Korsakoff’s Syndrome, and cancer. One of the most well-known health risks of alcohol overuse is alcoholism because alcoholism is known to run in families. Alcoholism leads to cravings and withdrawal that many need rehab for drinking to overcome.
Unfortunately, most drugs related to psychiatric conditions are prescribed by general doctors who have little training in treating psychological disorders compared to psychiatrists. This is likely because most people go to a doctor before they schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. Some doctors may not understand every aspect of how addiction can develop or in other cases, a patient may receive the wrong dosage.
People can also take a pill prescribed to someone else and some may intentionally overdose on their prescription to get high. These factors have the potential to lead to substance misuse and addiction that requires substance abuse help.
Breaking Free from Addiction
At The Recover, we understand how dealing with substance addiction is not an easy task for anyone. While some may believe that they can overcome addiction alone, there are a variety of rehabs for drinking and drug rehab centers out there with a wide range of treatments. Recovery from substance dependence is not a smooth transition to endure, but with support from others, you have a fighting chance.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider that helps people who are looking for the right treatment programs in their area. We also provide information on West Virginia centers for addiction recovery. If you are experiencing difficulties with controlling how much you drink, please feel free to contact us at (888) 510-3898 to talk to a treatment specialist who can help you find the right substance abuse help for your personal needs.