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Of all the addictive drugs in the world, most fit into one of two classes: depressants and stimulants. The two types have opposite effects, as you can determine by their names. Stimulants are used to stimulate the central nervous system of the body. They can increase energy and boost moods.

Depressants, on the other hand, slow down the nervous system. People who abuse recreational drugs often use both types for a variety of reasons. Depressant addictions have resulted in overdose deaths in numerous users. Long-term abuse of depressants is a severe problem in the United States and requires treatment to overcome.

Depressants are among the most commonly abused drugs in the world. While many types are legal and can be obtained through a prescription, they can cause extreme dependence issues. The majority of these drugs suppress the central nervous system and can give a person a sense of euphoria and relaxation.

Due to how they interact with the body, depressants are commonly prescribed to people who suffer from chronic pain. They come in the form of narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin, Morphine, OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, and others. Alcohol is also considered a depressant. They all relax the body, slow the heart, and interfere with standard gastrointestinal systems.

Types of Depressants

There are three main types of depressants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and ethyl alcohols.

1) Barbiturates

Barbiturates were once seen as a safe drug until users started finding themselves addicted. These addictions then lead to overdoses and sometimes death. These drugs were once prescribed to help treat sleep problems and anxiety. Once addiction to barbiturates became prevalent, doctors stopped prescribing them for those issues.

2) Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are among some of the most-prescribed drugs in the world. They are considered safe for short-term use, however, addiction can occur when taken for an extended time. Abuse and addiction often set in and can cause many issues. Benzodiazepines work as muscle relaxers, sedatives, and anticonvulsants.

3) Ethyl Alcohol

In second place to caffeine, ethyl alcohol is among the top psychoactive drugs in the world. Ethyl alcohol is just the official name of what we call ‘alcohol.’ According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 61 million people in the U.S. are binge abusers of alcohol.

While alcohol is legal and widely available, it is one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Nearly half of all homicides, traffic deaths, and physical assaults are caused by alcohol consumption.

Stimulants vs. Depressants

Stimulates provide a boost of energy, increase heart rate, and can improve mood. Caffeine, cocaine, Ritalin, meth, nicotine, and ecstasy are all known as stimulants. Many are legal, others are prescribed, and some are illicit (illegal). If you wonder why so many people need coffee in the morning or smoke cigarettes, it is because they desire of the above psychological effects.

For some people, being ‘hyped up’ is more stressful, therefore, they tend to gravitate towards something to calm themselves. Depressants like alcohol calms overactive nerves, relaxes sore muscles and brings about peaceful sleep.

Despite both types having legal consequences, millions of people abuse them due to their highly addictive natures.

Short-term and Long-term Effects

Depressants are particularly hard on the liver and digestive organs. In short-term use, they are generally safe, but prolonged use causes repeated damage. Alcohol is particularly damaging and has even proven to result in brain damage. Nearly 4% of all reported cancer deaths connect to consumption abuse.

People who use depressants, like opiates, notice one of the greater side-effects, like extreme constipation. Constipation, if left untreated, can lead to colon cancer. Overall, depressants slow everything down within the body. When coming off of depressants, anxiety and panic attacks are common.

Signs of Abuse and Withdrawal

Depressants work by suppressing the central nervous system. This can slow down other bodily functions, such as thinking and motivation. The symptoms last well beyond taking the medication. A person can become fatigued, wanting to sleep all the time. They may start canceling plans, give up personal hygiene, and lose interest in normal activities.

Anyone who has ever taken prescription opiates knows how addictive they can be. Even alcohol has highly addictive qualities. Depressant use can cause physical and mental dependence, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe. The symptoms of depressant withdrawal may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Runny Nose
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation

Therapy and Treatment

Once an addiction to depressants takes hold, medical detox is recommended. It can be nearly impossible to overcome the physical and emotional dependence on these drugs. Many can be dangerous and require the supervision of a medical doctor. Symptoms are treated with medications, therapy, and support from loved ones.

Serenity Acres offers professional addiction therapy and treatment for you or your loved one suffering from addiction. Contact us today to get on the road to recovery.