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Although it may seem like a form of behavior, addiction is actually a brain disease. As such, recovery isn’t something that just happens, which is why it’s important that individuals who suffer from addiction receive appropriate treatment. At Dream Center, we offer comprehensive treatment options for many forms of addiction, including addiction to depressants.

What Are Depressants?

There are many different mind-altering substances, and each belongs to a specific category. Of course, those categories denote the types of effects that tend to characterize those substances, so substances in the simulant category would be substances that essentially amplify the central nervous system, for example, and are often used as cognitive enhancers. But on the other end of the spectrum as stimulants is a category that’s referred to as depressants.

In the most basic sense, depressants are a class of drug that depress the central nervous system. While stimulants amplify activity in the central nervous system, depressants effectively hinder or reduce activity in the brain and the greater central nervous system. As such, some of the effects that users of depressants tend to experience include fatigue and profound drowsiness, difficulty maintaining consciousness, slurred speech, reduced cognition, slowed or depressed respiration, dramatically slower pulse and heart rate, substantially lower blood pressure, confusion, visual disturbances, and disorientation.

Of course, many of the effects mentioned above are experiential or behavioral, but there are a number of effects that are more physical or physiological in nature. In addition to things like the lower heart rate and blood pressure, the use of depressants tends to be associated with dilated pupils, difficulty or inability to urinate, an increase in body temperature and/or fever, dizziness, lethargy and sluggishness, and dizziness.

But what are the specific drugs that fall under the depressant category? This is where it can get a little complicated because the depressant category is often used as a blanket or general term that encompasses several other categories of drugs. For example, benzodiazepines, opioids, and alcohol are often labeled as depressants despite the fact that most of these substances also belong to their own unique category. As such, the more specific effects of depressants can vary considerably from one drug to the next because, aside from inducing a sense of fatigue and lethargy and poor cognitive functioning, each drug that’s considered a depressant is associated with its own unique effects, too, and some of these effects may not be as readily associated with the depressant class as they are with some other class of drug, such as benzodiazepines or opioids.

Depressant Addiction and Withdrawal

Being that the depressant class encompasses a diverse range of drugs, the specific biological machinations of a depressant drug often vary from one drug to another. For example, benzodiazepines — which, again, also meet the criteria for a depressant — work by either enhancing or causing additional production of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short; when the brain experiences a flood of GABA, an individual experiences sedation and a sense of intense calm. Similarly, the use of alcohol causes a flood of GABA in the brain, which is why addiction to benzodiazepines and addiction to alcohol are frequently treated in a similar manner. However, opioids work very differently in the brain, often causing a flood of feel-good neurochemicals that induce feelings of pleasure; although opioids affect the brain different than benzodiazepines, both classes of drugs induce fatigue and overall poorer cognitive functioning, which is why they could be considered depressant drugs.

When an individual becomes addicted to depressants, he or she has become physiologically dependent on the continuous intake of substances that depress the central nervous system. Unfortunately, this causes him or her to experience negative side effects when unable to consume depressant drugs; these effects are known as depressant withdrawal.

As with other substances, the symptoms of depressant withdrawal tend to be opposite of the symptoms of the actual depressants. In particular, individuals experiencing depressant withdrawal are often jittery and anxious. Additionally, they often experience sweating and physical discomfort, which are often symptoms of other forms of addiction, too. Beyond that, there’s potential for extremely severe or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms, particularly if the depressant to which an individual is addicted happens to also be a benzodiazepine; those with intense addictions to such substances are at risk of potentially life-threatening symptoms such as seizures, which is why it’s often recommended that these individuals do not attempt to abruptly stop using these substances unless they’re under professional supervision.

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Treating an Addiction to Depressants

Even though addiction to depressants can be quite difficult to overcome on one’s own, recovery is definitely attainable with the appropriate resources. As mentioned above, addiction to depressants can be quite dangerous, so it’s often recommended that individuals who suffer from depressant addiction seek professional treatment at an inpatient facility.

More often than not, treating depressant addiction begins with an initial period of depressant detoxification, which refers to the cleansing of the body. During this time, the individual’s body eliminates the depressants as well as other foreign chemicals and toxins, returning to a state of health and equilibrium so that the individual is no longer physically dependent on depressants. Once the physical side of the addiction has been overcome, the individual is ready to begin receiving treatment for the psychological elements of addiction.

Being that addiction is a chronic brain disease, a lot of the recovery process from depressant addiction — as well as virtually all other forms of addiction — entails psychotherapy and counseling. These forms of treatment allow an individual to identify the underlying and circumstantial factors that contributed to the development of the addiction, ensuring that these factors do not contribute to relapses in the future. Additionally, many individuals in recovery will participate in group treatment, especially psychoeducational and interpersonal process groups. In some cases, a patient may choose to participate in holistic treatments, too. The idea is to address all the various effects of addiction by matching those effects to the most appropriate and relevant treatments, ensuring that all aspects of recovery are addressed.

If you would like to learn more about depressants, or for more information about the treatments we offer, call Dream Center today. We have staff members available day and night to take your call and help you or your loved one take the first steps toward lasting recovery.

Dream Center for Recovery

In addition to over 6,000 square feet of newly renovated clinical office space, Dream Center provides an extraordinary residential living facility that is set among 8 spacious acres and filled with an abundance of all things natural- trees, plants, fruits, vegetables, eggs and more- that together provides clients with a true fresh start from the toxic world of drugs & alcohol.