What are Depressants?
A depressant is any drug that slows down your Central Nervous System (CNS). Just a quick recap: the CNS is located in your brain and spinal cord. It’s responsible for detecting stimuli and converting that information into sensory data. It also is responsible for motor skills – how you move the various parts of your body.
Some examples of depressants include:
- Barbituates (ex: Nembutal)
- Benzodiazepines (ex: Xanax, Valium)
- Sleeping medications
- Opioids (ex: Oxycodone)
And, of course, alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, although it does have some stimulant qualities in low doses. While it’s legal and widely consumed, alcohol can be harmful or fatal in high quantities, and chronic use can lead to addiction and serious health problems.
Why Do People Use Alcohol?
There are a variety of reasons people may drink alcohol. Sometimes people do it for ceremonial purposes – a child’s baptism, or a wedding, for instance.
Other times, it’s to socialize, such as when people get together with friends at bars to have drinks. In these situations, people sometimes abuse alcohol – this is known as binge drinking. Young people are especially likely to do this due to their susceptibility to peer pressure.
Some people abuse alcohol habitually due to alcoholism, known in the medical community as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Mental illness is a major contributing factor to a person’s likelihood to suffer from AUD. Twenty to 60 percent of cases of alcohol dependence involve mood disorders.
What Are the Side Effects of Depressant Abuse?
Side effects of abusing depressants include:
- Physical Health Problems — This can include a range of issues from headaches and dizziness to more severe problems like respiratory distress, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. Long-term use can potentially lead to liver damage, lung disease, and other serious health conditions.
- Cognitive and Emotional Issues — Depression, confusion, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating are some of the cognitive and emotional side effects that may occur. These issues can potentially interfere with a person’s ability to function in their daily life.
- Sleep Problems — While depressants are often used to treat sleep disorders, misuse can lead to problems like insomnia. Over time, users may also develop a tolerance, meaning they need to use more of the substance to achieve the same effect.
- Physical Dependence and Withdrawal — Regular use of depressants can lead to physical dependence. This means that a person’s body becomes so accustomed to the drug that they experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. These symptoms can be severe and potentially include fever, nausea, seizures, and hallucinations.
- Overdose — Perhaps the most serious potential side effect is overdose. Because depressants slow down brain activity, taking too much can slow a person’s heart rate and breathing to dangerously low levels. This can potentially lead to coma or death.
- Addiction — Chronic misuse of depressants can also lead to addiction, a serious disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Addiction can have a wide range of negative impacts on a person’s life, including problems with work, school, relationships, and the law.
It’s also important to note that mixing depressants with other substances, particularly alcohol, can intensify these effects and increase the risk of overdose. For example, mixing alcohol with opioids can slow your breathing to dangerously low levels.
If you or a loved one suffers from alcohol abuse or addiction, contact Aliya Health Group.
Who Is at Risk for Alcohol Abuse?
Anyone can suffer from alcohol abuse and addiction. The biggest risk factor for alcohol addiction is binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men and 4 or more for women. Doing this repeatedly significantly increases the risk of developing AUD.
However, some people may be at higher risk than others.
Risk factors for alcohol abuse and addiction are:
- Age — Studies show young people are vulnerable to alcohol abuse and addiction. This is especially true of young people in college, where binge drinking is prevalent.
- When You Begin Drinking — The earlier you drink, the more likely you are to develop AUD later in life. This is especially the case for those who begin drinking in adolescence or earlier.
- Mental illness — Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are significant risk factors for AUD.
- Sex — Due to their higher body fat percentage, women absorb alcohol faster than men.
- Family History — Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to alcohol addiction. This means that a history of alcoholism in the family can make a person more likely to develop the condition. Likewise, one’s upbringing can also predispose a person to alcoholism.
It’s important to remember that these factors do not determine whether someone will develop an alcohol use disorder, but they are associated with an increased risk. Just because someone has these risk factors doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop an addiction, and likewise, people without these risk factors can still develop AUD.
If you or someone else may be struggling with alcohol abuse, please seek professional help.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, you don’t have to face it alone.
We at Aliya Health Group seek to be a beacon, resource, and partner for those struggling with alcohol addiction. We offer affordable and compassionate alcohol addiction treatment, with alcoholism treatment centers all over the country.
After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.
There are several different approaches to treating alcohol addiction, including:
After completing medical detox, you’ll transition to residential treatment, also known as inpatient treatment. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.
In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.
A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, a partial hospitalization program offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for several hours each day, returning to their homes in the evening.
This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, and medication management as necessary.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Clients undergoing this program participate in intensive therapy sessions, meeting three to five days a week, with each session lasting three hours. This level of care is a step down from partial hospitalization, requiring less time commitment.
IOPs offer participants the ability to continue their employment or academic obligations, receiving support and therapy as needed as they prepare to reenter society.
Finally, there’s outpatient care. Outpatient care allows clients to receive care without neglecting their responsibilities at home. It also tends to be significantly more affordable than higher levels of care.
Start Your Alcoholism Recovery Journey Today
If you or a loved one are thinking of seeking treatment for addiction to alcohol but have questions, call us at 888-965-3085 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to assist you.