Addiction to medication, supplements and pills in general became more frequent over the course of past few years.
A difference should be made between sedative/hypnotic dependence and sedative/hypnotic abuse.
Sedative/hypnotic dependence occurs when a person uses psychotropic substances (benzodiazepines, sedatives, barbiturates, sleep inducing medication, psychostimulants, etc.). On the other hand, sedative hypnotic abuse is characterized by the strong need to use medication for the purpose of avoiding withdrawal syndrome or psychological problems caused by abstinence.
Most used sedatives
Sedatives that are not advised to be taken without professional supervision:
- Diazepam (e.g. Valium)
- Lorazepam (e.g. Ativan)
- Alprazolam (e.g. Xanax)
The reasons for using these substances at the beginning are usually benign – insomnia, mild pains, work related problems, romantic troubles, anxiety.
The body quickly gets used to their presence and use.
What all these medications have in common is that they also influence the psyche, apart from their initial purpose: they are meant to relax and/or relieve pain. For that reason the user often continues to use the drug even when the real problem, one for which the sedative-hypnotics was prescribed, is cured. After some time, the body develops certain tolerance to the drug.
Higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect as before at which point sedative-hypnotics become a narcotic.
Physical and psychological dependence develops very easily, after a few weeks only. Having in mind that sedative-psychotics cause very severe forms of withdrawal syndrome, the process of “getting the patient off the medication” is much more difficult.
How to recognize addiction to sedative-psychotics?
After addiction develops there are several typical symptoms, of which only a few may occur:
- use of medication in spite of knowing about harmful side effects,
- irresistible need to take the sedative-hypnotics,
- increase in dosage to achieve the initial effect,
- occurrence of withdrawal syndrome in case of discontinuation of use or dosage reduction,
- loss of control and restraint.
How to treat sedative-hypnotics addiction?
Treatment of sedative-hypnotics addicts includes stopping the use through gradual reduction of dosage. The duration of this phase depends on the initial prescribed daily dosage.
After the initial patient evaluation and first week follow up, to assure the success of the treatment, it is advised to continue the treatment according to the steps of FAST Recovery program.
Đukanović B., Knežević Tasić J., Bihevioralne zavisnosti u Srbiji (Behavioral addiction in Serbia), Izdavačka knjižernica Zorana Stojanovića, Sremski Karlovci, 2015.