Substance Abuse: Are You Suffering?

What you need to know about depressants

What are depressants?

  • Depressants are also called "downers".
  • They slow down the bodies processes.
  • Can include: Marijuana, alcohol, benzodiazepines, usually used to treat anxiety (ex: Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Librium, Klonopin), barbiturates, which are drugs used as sedatives (ex: phenobarbital, Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal)
  • Side Effects: Low blood pressure, slowed down brain activity, dizziness, confusion, depression, slurred speech, fatigue, addiction.

The Affect on the mind and body

  • Mind: sleep, relieve anxiety, amnesia, reduced reaction time, impaired mental functioning and judgment, long-term use of depressants produces psychological dependence and tolerance.
  • Body: Muscle relaxation, prevention of seizures, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, weakness, headache, lightheadedness, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, slowed breathing.

What are some possible causes of the abuse of depressants?

  • Biological Factors: The "pleasure" or "reward" desired from consuming depressants. The enhancement of the neurotransmitter GABA produces sedative and anti-anxiety effects.
  • Psychological Factors: The use of substances may be learned from behaviors modeled by parents. Personality characteristics of the individual may also pose risks for substance abuse. These characteristics include impulsiveness, sensation-seeking, antisocial behaviors.
  • Can also be linked to stress, poverty, violence in the home and in relationships.
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What are my treatment options?

Biological treatments are available and usually in the form of medications. Medications are used to wean the patient off of the substance they are dependent on, and reduce their desire for it. They can also help with withdrawal symptoms that may be present.

Behavioral treatments are also used to help in the treatment of substance abuse. Behavioral treatments can be used to help motivate the person to stop using the drug, as well as teaching patients coping skills in order to replace the substance and cope with the stress and negative feelings in a better way. Changing reinforcements for using substances is another step in behavioral treatment. This can include disengaging from friends or family that are encouraging your use.

Don't Lose Hope!

You are not weak.

You are capable.

You are not a "bad person".

This is not a voluntary behavior.

Treatment does work.

These are common myths and misconceptions...

Finding the right treatment and facility is your first step in the road to recovery.

What to Look for in a therapist/counselor

For addiction counselors:

  • A bachelors or masters degree in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Studies or Addictions Counseling
  • Licensing through the National Board for Certified Counselors
For addiction psychiatrists:

  • Bachelors Degree
  • Completion of an accredited medical school program
  • Completion of a post-residency fellowship in addiction psychology
  • Certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN)


Price, E., PhD. (n.d.). How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from

Stimulants and Depressants: What You Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from

What Are Depressants? Examples & Effects of Depressant Drugs - Drug-Free World. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from

Ten Popular Myths About Drugs, Addiction, and Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from

How to Become an Addiction Psychiatrist. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from