Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Are sedatives addictive?

Sedatives, also medically referred to as central nervous system depressants, are more often than not prescribed to individuals who are experiencing a variety of mental health issues, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Various sleeping difficulties

Whilst sedatives are often very successful in helping the above conditions; there runs an extremely high risk of addiction.

What are sedatives?

Sedatives are a type of medication developed to slow down the central nervous system; their results will often show the body and the brain functioning much slower than expected. Additionally, it is wise to be aware and understand that individual motor skills may be affected by a sedative which can often form fatigue.

The worrying factor with sedatives is that the drug and its components are naturally addicting, resulting in individuals building up a relatively quick tolerance to the drug. It has been documented that specific individuals. have built up a tolerance to sedatives within as little as a week of taking them. Sedatives work extremely fast once they have entered the body, causing rapid alterations to the brain, resulting in fast addictions and dependency.

Common sedatives that individuals can often be prescribed can be seen to include but are not limited to the following:

  • Prescription sleep hypnotics and aids: Medical professionals often prescribe this medication to treat mental health illnesses such as insomnia.
  • Benzodiazepines: These types of medication are often used to treat individuals suffering from anxiety disorders but can also be used to treat individuals suffering from seizures.
  • Barbiturates: This medication treats individuals who have insomnia and any anxiety disorder. However, they are commonly used to treat patients struggling with epilepsy.

How do sedatives work?

Sedatives work effectively by completely modifying various nerve communication between the central nervous system and your brain. The result of sedatives is that the patients will become mentally and physically relaxed, which ensures that brain activity is completely slowed down.

Causes and risk factors for sedative addiction

The likelihood is that various factors will influence an individual who has been medically prescribed sedatives. One of the main factors that doctors will look into before prescribing specific medication is family history and genetics.


If a patient has documented information stating a history of substance abuse and addiction, the likelihood of the current patient becoming addicted or abusing sedatives significantly rises. If a patient is of high risk but requires sedatives as part of a treatment plan, they will be heavily monitored by a medical professional to limit the risk of addiction.


Having many sedatives readily available to ingest as an individual wants will significantly raise the risk of addiction or substance abuse. If the patient is a heavy or long-term drinker and sedatives are readily available, the likelihood of an accidental overdose is significantly higher. Sedatives are often prescribed to individuals struggling with anxiety; insomnia and are often drawn to alcohol to help alleviate the pain.

Further risk factors can be seen to include but are not limited to:

  • Impulsivity
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Availability of the sedative
  • Gender
  • Novelty seeking
  • Associating with the individual who uses or abuses the sedatives
  • Early exposure to a form of sedative abuse
  • Family history of addiction or substance abuse

Symptoms of sedative addiction

Sedative addiction signs and symptoms can often begin showing themselves in two main areas; these can be seen to be physically and psychologically. The signs and symptoms are never the same in each person; each body will take its own amount of time to break down within the body, which can cause various withdrawal symptoms.

Physical symptoms of sedative addiction

There are a variety of physical symptoms that may begin to present themselves when sedative addition begins to occur; this can be seen to include but is not limited to:

  • Muscle shaking
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed speech
  • Poor impulse control
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired motor functions

The intensity of the symptoms will vary from person to person, with each symptom beginning different for each person’s experience.

Psychological symptoms of sedative addiction

Addiction and dependency on illicit or prescription drugs cause a wide array of physical effects and mental health. When your body becomes dependent on sedative drugs, there are often a typical amount of signs and symptoms that will begin to start showing if a withdrawal period occurs. These signs and symptoms can be seen to include but are not limited to:

  • A completely overwhelming sense of cravings for the substance that was being abused
  • Failing to cut down or stop the drug completely
  • Experiencing a greater dosage need
  • Experiencing a greater need for a more frequent dose
  • Experiencing strong and clear physical withdrawal symptoms
  • Taking the sedative even though it has caused negative impacts on your life

When there is a solid psychological dependency on a drug, such as a sedative, individuals may begin experiencing changes at a rapid pace.

If you have noticed any of the above psychological or physical signs or symptoms, we advise you to seek professional medical help immediately to ensure you are given all the necessary information.

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