Are Prescription Sedatives Addictive?

The answer to whether prescription sedatives are addictive is yes. Just like every other depressant, prescription sedatives come with a high risk of addiction.

For instance, opioid is a common drug for relieving patients of chronic pains, hence its usage by doctors.However, even under professional monitoring, a patient can become addicted to opioids.

When a patient is addicted to prescription opioids, we refer to this as prescription opioid addiction. Similarly, prescription sedatives can be addictive even under professional supervision.

But, before a patient becomes a prescription sedative addict, the first sign you will see is a dependence on sedatives. Aside from dependence on the substance, there are other signs of sedative addiction.

In this article, we will answer all your questions relating to prescription sedative addiction. Also, we shall review treatment options available for sedative addiction.

Are Prescription Sedatives Addictive: Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms and Risk Factors

Sedatives are drugs given to suppress the activities of the central nervous system. Because of the suppressing effects of prescription sedatives on the central nervous system, individuals may experience fatigue and sluggishness. Other effects that come with the use of prescription sedatives include shallow breathing, slurred speeches and disorientation.

Medically, sedatives are given to individuals suffering from anxiety disorders, insomnia, panic attacks and seizures. Sedatives also offer relaxing effects.

In Canada, the use of prediction sedatives is regulated by Health Canada. So, except in pharmaceutical stores, it is difficult to find sedatives on the street.

The reason for this strict regulation of sedatives is because of their high addictive property. It’s also important that no two prescriptions for sedatives are the same. It means that doctors taper sedatives prescriptions to meet individuals’ diagnoses. So, we often advise patients under prescription sedatives not to share their drugs with other patients.

There are 3 major types of sedative medications namely:


Benzodiazepines are the most common type of sedatives you can find around. Hence, making them the most commonly abused sedatives. Benzodiazepines can be used to treat severe stress, convulsion and panic attacks. Just like every other sedative, benzodiazepines have intoxicating effects on the brain like alcohol.

For the sake of concealment, benzodiazepines have different names on the street. Here are common street names for benzodiazepines:

  • Benzos
  • Beans
  • Downers
  • Sleeping pill
  • Valley girls


Barbiturates are strong sedatives doctors prescribe only to patients with extreme pain syndrome or seizure disorders. Barbiturates produce a feeling of calm and intoxicating effect on patients.

Just like other sedatives, barbiturates come in pill forms. However, you can either take them in pill form or dissolve them in liquid for injecting.

Common examples of barbiturates are:

  • Seconal(Secobarbital)
  • Luminal(Phenobarbital)
  • Amytal( amobarbital)

On the street, barbiturates have different names and they include:

  • Blockbusters
  • Yellows
  • Yellowjackets
  • Goofballs
  • Pinks

Z-Drug or sleep medication

Common Z-drugs are Lunesta (eszopiclone), Ambien (zolpidem), and Sonata (zaleplon). Z-drugs are common sleeping drugs used to treat insomnia and sleep disorders. Z-drugs are similar to benzodiazepines in that they have intoxicating effects on the brain.

Unlike benzodiazepines, the effects of Z-drugs are short-lived and do not last till the following day. However, patients can abuse the drug when trying to recreate the initial feeling of “highness”.

When patients abuse sleeping pills they are likely to experience psychosis and hallucinations.

Here are common street names for Z-drugs:

  • Mexican Valium
  • Forget-me-pill
  • Roofies
  • Roche
  • A-minus

Related Article: Prescription Drug Addiction: How to Prevent a Relapse

Prescription Sedatives

How do sedatives work?

When you use prescription sedatives, they initiate the production of GABA (Gamma AminoButyric Acid) in the brain. GABA is responsible for depressing the activities of the central nervous system. Hence, it is easy to explain the reduced heartbeat and breathing rate.

Sedatives do not only initiate the production of GABA, but they also lengthen its effect on the nervous system. Because of the relaxing effects of GABA, continual use can lead to abuse and addiction to sedatives.

Risk factors of Prescription Abuse and Addiction

Taking sedatives is not as simple as it seems, there are dos and don’ts of taking sedatives. If not duly followed, you can get addicted or even suffer an overdose.

Below, we explain risk factors that can increase your chances of prescription sedative abuse and addiction.

Alcohol and sedatives

Alcohol is a nervous depressant that causes effects just like sedatives. Taking alcohol together with sedatives can increase their depressing effects on the central nervous system.

Consequently, there may be a significant decrease in breathing and heartbeat rates. This may lead to more severe symptoms. Likewise, taking alcohol and sedatives can lead to sedative overdose as the case may be.

Sedatives with other medications

When taking sedatives, we often advise people to steer clear of sharing prescriptions. Sharing prescriptions with other people is a risk factor for sedative overdose and addiction. Similarly, taking medications that show similar effects to sedatives can lead to overdose.

Sedatives and pregnancy

Often, we advise pregnant women to avoid the use of sedatives when pregnant. Taking sedatives when you are pregnant will harm the fetus.

Signs and symptoms of Prescription Sedative Addiction

When discussing sedative addiction, people confuse dependence with tolerance. For first-timers, the effect of sedatives on their bodies is different from “oldies”.

For people who have been using prescription sedatives for a long time, their bodies will require a higher dose to reproduce the initial feel of relaxation. At this stage, we can safely say your body is starting to develop a tolerance for the drugs.

On the other hand, dependence occurs when the body cannot produce feelings of relaxation naturally. However, it is important to note that dependence is not the same as prescription sedative addiction. For sedative addiction, there is a compulsive need to use the substance.

The primary indicator of a prescription drug addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Whenever a person stops using sedatives after dependence on the drug, the body tries to compensate for this. The normal body compensation for the absence of sedatives is known as withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe depending on how bad the addiction was. Common withdrawals symptoms include:

  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors anxiety
  • Hallucination

The withdrawal symptoms of prescription sedative addiction can start as early as 4 hours after the last use and last for weeks. They can also spiral into severe health problems.

This is why it’s advisable to go through treatment at a prescription drug rehab centre. Here, you’ll have access to facilities and professionals who can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and eventual detox.

Prescription Sedatives Addictive signs

Treatment Options for Prescription Sedative Addiction

Once you notice you are addicted to prescription sedative drugs, recovery should be the next step. Thankfully, advancements in the world of addiction treatment

there are a few steps to help you recover. One common step to prescription sedative addiction is tapering.


Tapering is the gradual reduction of sedatives till you overcome dependence on the substance. Tapering is usually done by a professional in a supervised environment. Most times, tapering occurs in in-patient addiction rehab centres.

In in-patient treatment centres, you’ll be under 24-hour close monitoring. This way, doctors can safely manage any withdrawal symptoms that may arise.

This level of monitoring is also necessary to prevent a relapse. The withdrawal stage will come with severe cravings. When you don’t have access to sedatives, it’ll be harder to give in to these cravings.

Behavioural Therapy

Another common type of prescription drug addiction treatment is behavioural therapy. Behavioural therapy engages intensive therapies like Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBD). It can also come in the form of individual sessions or group sessions.

Behavioural therapy is important to help addicts recognize their triggers and develop healthy coping systems.Also, behavioural therapy helps patients to adopt new lifestyles to prevent relapses in future. In doing this, patients may have to take up new hobbies like cooking and group reading to remain drug-free even after treatment.

Related Article: Why Do Most People Get Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

To Wrap It Up

Just like every other depressant, prescription sedatives can be addictive even under a supervised environment. Because of the high tendencies of addiction, the drug is strictly regulated.

However, you can still find sedatives in the street.

Sedatives on the street is a factor responsible for sedative addiction and abuse among young people.

Prescription sedatives can easily be abused and in worse cases, lead to an overdose. For example, taking the drug with alcohol or substance with similar effect can cause an overdose. Common symptoms of prescription sedative overdose include poor judgement, memory loss and breathing problems.

We do not underestimate the role of professional services when treating prescription sedative addiction. In fact, we emphasize using addiction treatment to help you lead a healthy lifestyle again. For top-notch professional services, check out our addiction recovery and treatment services.

Here at Inspire Change Wellness Addiction Treatment Center for Men, we can chart a recovery plan to reverse dependence on prescription sedatives. Book an appointment with our experts today!

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