The Dangers of Abusing Multiple Depressants

The Dangers of Abusing Multiple Depressants

Abusing multiple depressants can lead to addiction

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, also referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, work by reducing brain activity and producing a calming effect. CNS depressants are primarily used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. CNS depressants as prescribed by a physician can be an important part of a treatment program for conditions that control brain activity. Using the drugs in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed by a physician, and in combination with other types of depressants, can lead to drug addiction.

Types of Depressants

CNS depressants come in three main categories: benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sleep medications and barbiturates. The National Institute on Drug abuse lists the following as the most commonly-prescribed drugs in each category:

  • Benzodiazepines – Diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. The more sedating benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom) are prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Benzodiazepines are not typically prescribed for longterm use because of the risk for developing tolerance, dependence, or addiction.
  • Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications – Although chemically different than benzodiazepines, zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zalepon (Sonata) act on some of the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines. They also have fewer side effects and less risk of dependence than benzodiazepines.
  • Barbiturates Mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium), and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), are used less frequently to reduce anxiety or to help with sleep problems because of their higher risk of overdose compared to benzodiazepines. However, they are still used in surgical procedures and for seizure disorders.

Dangerous Drug Combinations

Combining CNS depressants with other depressant substances can lead to addiction, accidental overdose and death. Because depressants work to slow brain activity, using more than one at a time can double the intended effect. A person taking benzodiazepines may not realize alcohol is also a depressant and drink after she has taken her medication. Some street drugs, inhalants and solvents and even marijuana also depress the central nervous system. When combined with prescription depressants the results can be dangerously low respirations, weak pulse, coma and even death. Using more than one depressant at a time may seem like a good idea, especially if you or a loved one struggles with both anxiety and a sleep disorder, but doing so can be deadly.

Find Help for Drug Addiction

Combining depressants with alcohol, street drugs or more than one medication can lead to addiction and even death. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to talk to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.