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Depressants and stimulants: Diametrically opposite effects, but similar risks

Depressants and stimulants: Diametrically opposite effects, but similar risks

14 June | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Though depressants and stimulants are diametrically opposite in nature, they act on the same portions of the central nervous system (CNS). However, higher dosages of both the drugs have the potential to cause severe repercussions on the users. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference and similarities between these medications.

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, sometimes referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, are substances that can slow brain activity. Being sedative in nature, doctors typically prescribe depressants to relieve anxiety or sleep disorders. In higher doses, some CNS depressants can become general anesthetics. Based on their chemistry and pharmacology, CNS depressants can be divided into two groups that include barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Stimulants have historically been used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, as well as obesity and neurological disorders, among others. Though these drugs enhance alertness, attention and energy, they also increase blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. As their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the use of stimulants began to wane.

Besides the above-mentioned diseases, prescription of stimulants has been considerably restrained to only a few health conditions, including narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and occasionally depression in those who have not responded to other treatments. Considering the role of stimulants in enhancing energy and alertness and the role of depressants in calming one’s racing nerves and disturbed mind, these drugs are increasingly misused by people, especially youngsters. These drugs are being abused like never before for the enhancement of performance or experimentation.

Types of CNS depressants and stimulants

It is essential to understand the common medications that are classified as CNS depressants to avoid the aforementioned side effects and development of an addiction. Some of these medicines are as follows:

  • Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam and alprazolam): These drugs are usually prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions and panic attacks. The more powerful sedative benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (Prosom), are prescribed for the short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Due to the increased risk of developing dependence and eventually addiction, benzodiazepines are not prescribed for long-term use.
  • Nonbenzodiazepine sleep medications (e.g. zolpidem, eszopiclone, and zalepon): Despite having a different chemical structure, they act on some of the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines. Compared to benzodiazepines, they are believed to have fewer side effects and are less addictive.
  • Barbiturates(e.g. mephobarbital, phenobarbital, etc.): Due to the increased risk of overdose, they are used less frequently for alleviating anxiety and sleep disorders. However, they are still used in surgical procedures and for seizure disorders.

Most prescription stimulants are labeled as Schedule II drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to the increased chances of misuse. When abused, some of the prescribed stimulants as mentioned below can turn out to be as dangerous as illicit stimulants. Therefore, it is essential to take such drugs under the supervision of a doctor. Some of the side effects of the commonly used stimulants are as follows:

  • Amphetamines: It refers to a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs called CNS stimulants. They usually trigger hallucinations, severe mental changes, slow or fast heartbeat, etc.
  • Dextroamphetamine: Some of the common side effects include difficulty falling asleep, restlessness, loss of appetite or weight loss, etc.
  • Methamphetamine: These drugs not frequently prescribed by doctors because of their intense side effects.
  • Methylphenidate (or methylphenidate hydrochloride): The commonly reported side effects of methylphenidate include fast heartbeat, chest pain, fever, skin rashes or hives, etc.
  • Diet pills: Such drugs can prove to be immensely dangerous in certain cases, especially when taken not for losing weight or other medical reasons. Some of the repercussions of diet pills include pulmonary hypertension, elevated blood pressure and heartbeat, etc. 

Lead an addiction-free life

Generally, depressants enable even shy and introvert individuals to function better at social gatherings. Such drugs help in replacing troubled thoughts with pleasurable feelings,  building a sense of confidence, and alleviating anxiety and stress. Since stimulants are sometimes shared with friends for enhancing academic performance, this increases the scope for misuse, especially among youngsters. These behaviors ultimately lead to an addiction

If you or a loved one is trying to overcome substance abuse, contact the Detox Facilities Texas for finding the best detox centers in Texas. To know more about the rapid detox centers in Texas, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-4308 or chat online with our treatment advisers.