Depressants are drugs that inhibit function of the central nervous system (CNS) and are among the most widely used drugs in the world. These drugs operate by impacting neurons in the CNS, which leads to symptoms like drowsiness, relaxation, decreased inhibition, anesthesia, sleep, coma, even death. Addiction is a possibility with them and, over time, they may have serious health implications for people who become addicted.
Alcohol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is the second most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. While alcohol is a legal drug, it also has a high potential for abuse. Nearly 61 million people in the United States over the age of 12 reported being binge alcohol users. Another 16 million people over age 12 reported being heavy alcohol users.
This drug is sometimes referred to as a downer. This is a type of CNS depressant which causes euphoria and relaxation when taken in smaller doses. During the early half of the 1900s, barbiturates were viewed as a safe depressant, but problems with addiction and deadly overdoses became apparent. The rate for addiction and overdose is high, so barbiturates are no longer commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep issues.
Benzodiazepines are a type of CNS depressant widely prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Because of their low toxicity and high effectiveness, benzos have been popularly used as a short-term treatment for anxiety and insomnia. The potential for dependency makes them less preferred long term for panic disorders, anxiety, or PTSD. Benzodiazepines have sleep-inducing, sedative, muscle-relaxing, and anticonvulsant effects. Because of these effects, benzodiazepines have been used to treat a number of issues including sleep difficulties, anxiety, excessive agitation, muscle spasms, and seizures.
Depressants often are used to relieve symptoms associated with different disorders, including:
- Panic disorders
The impact on the body cannot be denied and is a very challenging thing to consider when looking at whether to use depressants or not. It is best to work with a treatment etam who understands the myriad concerns a person has prior to starting (or stopping) depressants.
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