You might have heard the term “downer” used for a drug and wondered what it meant. It’s one of the many street names for drugs known as depressants. But what is a depressant? A depressant is any drug slows down the brain’s central nervous system and neural activity. What is a type of depressant? A whole number of drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, barbiturates and benzodiazepines and others.

There is a medical use for depressants: For those struggling with mental health issues, depressants known as antipsychotics can help treat their symptoms. For those who need aid in sleeping, depressants known as barbiturates help. For those with anxiety issues, depressants known as benzodiazepines help treat those symptoms.

However, while there is a medical use for depressants, often times, they are easy to become addicted to. For depressants that are prescribed by a doctor, if a person takes more than the recommended dose or without a prescription, that could lead to addiction. For depressants like alcohol and marijuana, a person can become addicted simply from repeated use.

Despite the many types out there, side effects of depressants are typically the same. They include:

  • Slow brain function
  • Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Poor concentration
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation, lack of coordination
  • Depression
  • Difficulty or inability to urinate
  • Addiction

Those are just the short-term side effects of depressants, however. What are the effects of depressants in the long-term?

  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sexual Problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Agitation
  • High body temperature
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • High-blood sugar

There are also long-term health effects, such as liver disease from alcoholism, or mental impairments from benzodiazepines like Valium.

When depressants are combined and taken together, such as alcohol and Valium, it can be very dangerous. They can slow down someone’s breathing and heart rate so much that they could die.

Effects of Depressant Addiction

When someone is addicted to depressants, they are struggling with a disease that is characterized as the compulsive seeking out of drugs. Symptoms of depressant addiction include:

  • Doctor shopping — obtaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors to obtain more depressants
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking depressants
  • An increased reliance on a depressant in order to get through everyday life
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Episodes of psychosis
  • Abuse of other depressants, including alcohol
  • Permanent mental impairments

Due to the nature of addiction, depressants can take over someone’s life, to the point where everything they do revolves around drugs. Since addiction is a disease, it needs a long-term treatment plan that is personalized to a patient’s needs.

Treatment For Depressants

There are two stages of treatment for depressants: Medical detox and therapy. Medical detox is the process in which someone stops using depressants while their depressant withdrawal symptoms are treated by medical professions. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and smells
  • Death

Detox is only the first step in the treatment for depressants. Therapy is the next step in treatment, and it should address the nature of addiction, and give people the tools they need to live drug-free. Therapy should also treat any co-occurring illnesses a person may have. Without treatment, the risk of relapse from the co-occurring illness is high.

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Treatment For Depressants at Sovereign Health

For those seeking treatment for depressants, Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas, offers the services they need to start their road to recovery. Our team of medical professionals creates a customized plan for each individual patient that treats depressant addiction and diagnosing any co-occurring illnesses.

Patients who need medical detox can find treatment at our El Paso facility. They can join our residential treatment program, where they can relax and focus on their recovery while receiving 24/7 medical and nonmedical care. Counseling and therapy services are provided at our facility as well. Individual therapy, group therapy, process groups and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are available.

Once a patient has finished their treatment program at Sovereign Health, we provide continuing care programs, such as meetings and educational events. This way, patients can continue to get the support they need as they make the journey toward recovery and a life that is drug-free.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to depressants, you are not alone. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information about our treatment for depressants.

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“The therapy here helped me really look at myself and find that I am a strong individual that can deal with this and move forward in my life.”- Katie