Sedative-Hypnotic Use Disorder

Sedative-Hypnotic Use Disorder is a substance use disorder characterized by a problematic pattern of sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. Like with all substance use disorders, there is a complex interplay between biological, social, psychological, and cultural factors.

Sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics (also known as depressants) slows down or “depresses” neurotransmission levels. They reduce arousal/stimulation in various areas of the brain. Common sedative-hypnotics include barbiturates (e.g. - phenobarbital) and benzodiazepines (e.g. - lorazepam, alprazolam, and diazepam). Other drugs include methaqualone (“Quaaludes”) and meprobamate (Miltown). Although often considered as a separate substance use disorder, alcohol use also falls under this substance category.

Drug Profile

Class Benzodiazepine Street Names Benzos, Downers, Tranks, Nerve Pills. Xanax (alprazolam) is commonly called Xannies (or Zannies), bars (referring to the shape of the pill)
Mechanism Potentiates effects of GABA at the GABAA receptor channel. Increases Cl- flow. Street price $5 for 10mg
Psychological Effects Amnesia, anticonvulsant, sedation, relaxation, disinhibition. Withdrawal Symptoms Palpitations, tachycardia
Physical Symptoms Decreased respiration rate, decreased heart rate.
See main article: Tapering Benzodiazepines