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Depressants

Depressants are drugs that slow down the nervous system and relieve anxiety. These drugs are sometimes known as “downers”.  The effects of using depressants can include drowsiness, relaxation, decreased inhibition, anaesthesia, sleep, coma, and even death.

Examples of depressants:

  • Alcohol
  • Diazepam
  • Valium
  • Cannabis

Depressants are among the most widely used drugs in the world. Repeated use of the drug can lead to a tolerance, where the user requires a higher dose to achieve the same effect. As with alcohol, effects of heavy use of depressants can include slurred speech, problems with coordination or walking, inattention, and memory difficulties

Users can develop a physical dependence, where physical withdrawal symptoms occur when a person stops using the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal can include anxiety, tremors, nightmares, insomnia, poor appetite, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, blood pressure abnormalities, dangerously high fever and seizures Addicts will feel the need to take the drug despite the psychological, interpersonal or physical problems that can develop.

The first goal when treating addiction of depressants is to perform a drug detox. This involves removing all trace of the drug from the body. A drug detox is required to take place in a controlled and safe environment surrounded by medical professionals who can help combat the effects of withdrawal. Alternatively, in some cases, a substitute drug is prescribed, which has less severe withdrawal symptoms. This allows the patient to gradually reduce how much of the drug is being taken. Once the body is clean of the drug, the treatment team can then focus on the psychological causes of addiction, which often include anxiety or depression. Counselling, group therapies and the 12 step programme can help the patient cope with life without the drug.

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