The brain processes the information received from the billions of interconnected neurons throughout the body’s central nervous system as a whole and determines how the body responds. Depressant drugs are so-called because they slow down the functions of the Central Nervous System (CNS). This is why are sometimes called “downers”.
While having some effects in common, depressant substances are not chemically identical. They include drugs as diverse as alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, z-drugs (e.g. Zolpidem, Zopiclone), methaqualone (eg. Quaalude), opiates and opioids. All these drugs, which range in their effects respectively from disinhibition, to sedation and sleep-inducement (hypnotics), to tranquillising and analgesia (painkillers), have a significant potential for dependency and addiction, and all consequently have a withdrawal syndrome (with varying degrees of discomfort, risk, and withdrawal symptoms) that addiction treatment must take fully into account.
With the exception of opiates and opioids, sudden withdrawal from dependence on all the drugs listed above is potentially fatal. Patient safety is therefore the overriding priority. Withdrawal from depressant drugs of dependence requires close medical management, such as is provided by a luxury addiction treatment centre like Clinic Les Alpes. Depending on the degree of tolerance established, it may take some time for people to come off drugs like benzodiazepines especially. Encouragement, psychological support, and diverting complementary therapies, will be needed to sustain motivation.
While drawing on tried and tested protocols to undergo medically supervised detoxification from a particular depressant drug, it is important for the multi-disciplinary team here at this luxury addiction rehab to gain a clear picture of each individual as a whole. Consideration will be given to the person’s life situation, to their addiction history, the degree of tolerance to depressant drugs of dependence and issues identified, such as trauma, in relation to their broader mental and physical health. Any history of overdose will need to be carefully assessed.
The team will aim to identify factors that may have contributed to the onset or perpetuation of the depressant addiction. For instance, if insomnia initiated the use of benzodiazepines or barbiturates, healthy alternatives to treat sleep disorders and hygiene will be offered. The same process will apply if pain alleviation featured in the onset of a dependence on opioids. Sometimes individuals may abuse alcohol or benzodiazepines to relieve the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental illness such as depression and/or anxiety or a bi-polar disorder, which will require psychiatric evaluation and possibly prescription medications. It will also mean identifying alternative methods such as exercise or guided relaxation to help alleviate symptoms and instil non-addictive ways of dealing with acute stress reactions that help lower tension and treat anxiety. Good nutrition will also always be important.
As soon as possible, the team will begin to assist the person with the psychological detachment from drugs of choice to enable a positive reorientation to living free from depressant addiction. Through recovery therapies, peer support and the involvement of families, each person will be helped to gain the insight necessary to making the positive psycho-social adjustments that will help sustain their engagement with recovery beyond treatment.