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Tranquilizers Addiction, Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Treatment Options

by | Last updated Jul 14, 2021 at 11:11AM | Published on Jan 4, 2020 | Drug Addiction

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Over 39 million Americans struggle with a tranquilizer addiction. Tranquilizer dependency can be emotionally, physically, and mentally devastating. It can also lead to overdose-related fatality if not treated effectively and immediately. If you believe that you or someone you love has been abusing prescription tranquilizers, it is wise to seek professional help as quickly as possible. 

What Are Tranquilizers?

Tranquilizers classify a chemical substance that is typically professionally prescribed and act as central nervous system depressants. They include medications such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Generally, these medications treat conditions such as tension, sleep disorders, panic attacks, acute stress reactions, and acute anxiety disorders. 

Some common brands of tranquilizers include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Quaaludes. These are mostly prescription sedatives prescribed to treat anxiety on a short-term basis. Unfortunately, tranquilizers have a high likelihood of abuse, and many who use the medications will begin abusing them at one point or another.

The neurological pathways within the brain begin to shift and alter with continued use, leaving those who consistently take barbiturates and benzodiazepines for extended periods with lasting psychological changes that could increase the risk of eventual dependency. 

As the reward pathways within the brain begin to shift, users start mentally and physically depending on the drugs to keep their minds and bodies in normal functioning order. 

Side Effects 

Unlike other drugs, it’s easy to notice side effects and signs of tranquilizer addiction. Initially, symptoms might be as simple as shaky hands and difficulty sleeping. Over time, side effects can lead to memory loss and even death.

Short-Term Effects

Most prescription sedatives and tranquilizers cause feelings of euphoria in users when taken in large doses. Additionally, tranquilizers have significant impacts on proper cognitive functioning.

Slurred speech, impaired reaction time, and decreased heart rate are all common short-term side effects of tranquilizer abuse. When one initially begins taking a prescribed tranquilizer, it is normal to feel sleepy, sluggish, fatigued, and relatively disoriented for several days. 

As the brain becomes used to this specific chemical, these symptoms are likely to disappear completely. However, abuse of this chemical substance entails that an amount far greater than initially prescribed is consumed. 

If an individual consumes tranquilizers in conjunction with another chemical substance, namely alcohol, they risk respiratory failure and even death.

Long-Term Effects

Prolonged abuse of prescription tranquilizers will often lead to physical and mental dependence. Consuming large quantities of barbiturates or benzodiazepines can lead to impaired judgment, memory loss, feelings of irritability, paranoia, and even suicidal ideations in some cases. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal, as many individuals experience life-threatening symptoms like seizures, heart attack, stroke, or coma. 

Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect

Once dependence occurs, it will be impossible for an individual to abruptly cease use without experiencing severe and potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms. Tranquilizer withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous as the body is already accustomed to the drug. Symptoms vary from person to person, and they depend on the severity of the abuse. Withdrawal symptoms can start to be noticeable within 6-36 hours and include:

  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Chills
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Altered reality
  • Rage
  • Confusion

By the end of the second day of withdrawal, it’s common for symptoms to worsen. Since many of these withdrawal episodes can be life-threatening, attempting to stop any tranquilizer alone might be dangerous. As a result, various addiction treatment options incorporate medical supervision to manage these symptoms. 

Addiction Treatment Options Available

With adequate support, recovery from a tranquilizer addiction is possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with tranquilizer addiction, know that there are treatment options. Though it might feel impossible at the time, take hope in knowing that there are specialists in helping those with tranquilizer addictions.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our team of medical therapists can help those struggling with tranquilizer addiction find purpose in life again. Slowly and steadily, together, we reduce the habit, find ways to stay healthy and look forward to the future.

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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