Most people won’t recognize the term ‘sedative hypnotics,’ but there’s a good chance that you, or someone you know, may have taken them at some stage. Sedative hypnotics are a group of drugs that include many brands of sleeping pills and insomnia medications, including barbiturates and benzdiazepines, and they can vary in strength and potency.
What Do Sedative Hypnotics Do?
Sedative hypnotics work on the central nervous system, slowing down brain function and relaxing muscles.
In the medical field, they’re often used to both promote sleep (for instance, to treat insomniacs) and as a relaxant. They’re used in both traditional medicine, and in the field of psychology.
Sedative hypnotics can be used on their own, as an illegal drug, for its relaxing properties. They’re also often used by heroin addicts, to enhance the effects of heroin, and drugs like GHB and Rohypnol, which are sedative hypnotics, and known as the ‘date rape drugs’ are often used to ‘spike’ drinks.
What Kinds of Drugs are Sedative Hypnotics?
There are many kinds of drugs (and many brand names) that fall into the category of sedative hypnotics. Nembutal (pentobarbital) and Seconal (secobarbital) are two of the better known types of barbiturates that fall into this category, and Valium (diazepam), and Tranxene (chlorazepate) are both examples of benzodiazepines that fall into this category.
Are Sedative Hypnotics Addictive?
Yes. All types of sedative hypnotics are considered highly addictive, which is one of the reasons that they’re only legally allowed to be taken with a doctor’s prescription. These prescriptions will usually only be for a few days at most, and it’s rare that a patient who is not in a mental health care facility will be given an ongoing prescription.
What Type of Addiction Do Sedative Hypnotics Cause?
Sedative hypnotics work on the brain chemistry, which means that they care able to cause physical dependence, with long term use. They’re also mentally addictive, as users, even those who use low doses, for extended periods of time, and who don’t build up a ‘tolerance’ can begin to believe that they cannot ‘function’ without the drug.
What Are the ‘Street’ Names for Sedative Hypnotics?
Sedative hypnotics are usually called downers, due to their effect on the body and mind. They’re a relaxant, and it’s that effect that users, both legal and illegal, are looking for.
What Are the Dangers of Abusing Sedative Hypnotics?
When not used under the care and supervision of a physician or psychologist, sedative hypnotics can be dangerous. Over time, abusers will build up a tolerance to the drugs, and they will have to take more of them to achieve the desired effect.
Sedative hypnotics are also very dangerous when taken with alcohol. In fact, taking alcohol with sedative hypnotics can be fatal. Even on their own, however, they can be very dangerous, and sedative hypnotic overdose is believed to account for as many as one third of all drug related deaths.
Other Side Effects of Sedative Hypnotics
Aside from the desired effects of sedative hypnotics, which are relaxation of the body and mind, people who take the drugs over a long period of time, whether by prescription or otherwise, can experience many other side effects.
These side effects can include temporary or permanent amnesia, slurred speech, or staggering, poor reflexes and impaired judgement.
What Are the Consequences of Sedative Hypnotic Abuse?
The most serious consequence of sedative hypnotic abuse is the potential for death, in the case of overdose.
Illegal possession of sedative hypnotics, however, can also carry a prison sentence, as can dealing in the drugs. In fact, if you don’t have a prescription from a medical professional, it’s best not to have these drugs at all.
Withdrawal from sedative hypnotics, and breaking addiction, can be a long and drawn out process, and addiction is dangerous, with a high possibility of overdose or death. It’s best to avoid taking these drugs at all, unless a doctor expressly instructs you to. It’s just not worth the potential addiction, and the risk.