This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
Tranquillisers are drugs prescribed by a doctor to treat stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety. Studies have shown that women in the UK have had tranquillisers prescriptions more than their male counterparts. The reason why tranquillisers are popular is due to their calming effect caused by suppressing the functionality of the central nervous system.
Tranquillisers can be classified into the following categories:
- Benzodiazepines. These are drugs prescribed to deal with anxieties and seizures. In the past, benzodiazepines were prescribed to treat insomnia, but they are no longer prescribed today since they are highly addictive. Examples of benzodiazepines are Valium and Xanax.
- Barbiturates. These are drugs prescribed to treat epilepsy. Initially, Barbiturates were used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Examples of barbiturates are Seconal and Nembutal.
- Zolpidem. These are drugs prescribed to treat insomnia. Examples of zolpidem are Ambien and Ambien CR.
Currently, barbiturates have been replaced by benzodiazepines because benzodiazepines have a high effect, reduce overdose cases, and are generally safer. Tranquillisers have some familiar street names such as special K, circles, candy, and super Valium.
In addition, tranquillisers can be legally prescribed by a professional doctor. On the contrary, using tranquillisers without an expert prescription is illegal. If you are suspected or caught using tranquilisers illegally, you can be fined and, in severe cases, face imprisonment. If you are also caught selling and distributing tranquilisers illegally, you are liable to the exact charges.
What are the different types of tranquilisers?
There are two types of tranquilisers, namely:
- Minor tranquilisers are also known as anxiolytics that are used to treat anxiety. Common types of minor tranquilisers are Zolpidem, Zaleplon, and Alprazolam.
- Major tranquilisers are also known as an antipsychotic medication that is used to treat psychological problems. Common types of major tranquilisers are Butyrophenones and Thioxanthenes.
The category which is most addictive when used is minor tranquilisers.
Several factors may cause tranquilliser addiction. Firstly, when you take a tranquilliser, it has a calming effect, and once you get the desired results, your body will urge for more doses. In addition, taking tranquillisers can cause tolerance, resulting in more tranquillisers resulting in an addiction.
Secondly, you might become dependent on the drug both physically and psychologically. For instance, if a doctor has prescribed a tranquilliser to help you cope with the anxiety, you may become dependent on the drug to ease stress; hence an addiction may occur.
Furthermore, people abuse the medicinal value of tranquilisers and use them for recreational purposes, which can trap individuals into addiction. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional advice on using the drug to prevent you from the dangerous consequences of tranquilliser addiction.
Reasons why doctors prescribe tranquilisers
Although tranquilisers are addictive, the doctor can prescribe the drug to treat the following:
- Lack of sleep
Nowadays, people around the world have insomnia. 23% of adults have insomnia, and due to severe insomnia effects, you may need tranquilisers prescriptions. Tranquilisers work by providing a calming and relaxing effect that can help you have a sound sleep. However, the main problem associated with tranquilisers is abuse, which can cause an overdose.
When you are tormented by anxiety, it is hard for you to concentrate on your work, talk in front of people or even go to certain events. So doctors will prescribe tranquilisers inform of antidepressants to help handle the anxiety issues. Tranquilisers works by calming anxiety, making the condition manageable.
- Helps to manage psychosis
Continuous use of drugs such as meth or psychedelics can lead to drug-related psychosis. Psychosis is a condition that makes your brain break from reality and can cause hallucinations. People with psychosis can say meaningless or senseless things. Tranquilisers help to calm the situation down.
What are the signs and symptoms of tranquilliser addiction?
You might wonder if your tranquilisers use has developed into an addiction. If you or your loved ones are struggling using tranquilisers, the following are symptoms that can help you identify if there is a tranquilliser addiction:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Loss of memory
- Irregular breathing
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Increased sleep
- Hands start to shake
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of hygiene
- Persistent coughing
How are tranquilisers taken?
Tranquilisers can be taken in various forms. They are:
- Through injection. People who have psychosis are injected since it is hard for the doctor to trust them to use the medication independently.
- As capsules or pills, when tranquillisers are used illegally, the standard way the drug is taken is as capsules or tablets. Through this method, the tranquilliser will take a long time to work, which means that the tranquilliser effects will also stay much longer in the body.
- As a suppository: This is the most uncomfortable method of taking tranquilisers. They are inserted through the anal opening to the digestive system and are finally absorbed into the bloodstream. However, this method is used by people who mostly steal the tranquilisers and want to see the results instantly.
Are tranquilisers safe?
There are many types of tranquilisers, and each carries its risks compared to the others. Minor tranquilisers are safe when used after a doctor’s prescription. However, it is essential to note the harmful effects of tranquilisers, such as benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax, which, even though they are legal, carry high threats of addiction just like opioids.
Moreover, discussing your health issues with the doctor can help the doctor know which type of drug is suitable for you.
Side effects of tranquillisers
In a nutshell, tranquilisers have the same risks and addiction similar to heroin and cocaine. Though the stakes might not be as high, they might include:
- Addiction: when you cannot stop the use of tranquilisers even with the efforts to do so.
- Dependence: whereby the body becomes used to tranquilisers.
- Withdrawal when the undesired symptoms arise due to your body’s dependence on tranquilisers.
- Tolerance: Your body creates resistance to tranquilisers, forcing you to take more tranquilisers to achieve the desired effect.
- Overdose: Taking too many tranquilisers can cause dangerous side effects.
An addiction to tranquilisers can affect you or your loved ones. Though physical signs are most evident, the effects are wide-ranging and can affect your life. The side effects are classified as follows:
Tranquilisers interfere with your standard mechanisms. In case of an overdose, death may occur. The following are physical effects of tranquilliser addiction:
- Eating disorders
- Difficulty in breathing
- Lack of motivation
- Low inhibitions
- Feelings of euphoria
If you take tranquilisers for a long time, you may experience the following social effects:
- Poor relationship with friends and family
- Inability to attend social functions
- Isolation from loved ones
- Secluding yourself from others
- Strained family relationships
- Neglected family or work responsibilities
Apart from the physical and social effects that tranquilisers exhibit, there are also psychological impacts. For example, tranquillisers can cause a mood disorder that can affect your mental well-being.
Additionally, if you continue using the drug, you will experience memory loss due to sedation. Memory loss can make your moods dull, increasing the mood disorder you have been experiencing.
Finally, like psychedelics, the use of tranquilisers can make you paranoid, resulting in making dangerous decisions not only for yourself but also for others.
Overdose on tranquilisers can cause the same effects as alcohol abuse because they both work in similar ways to calm the central nervous system. In addition, tranquilisers overdose can occur if you want to increase the “high-effect” you get from the drugs.
Common symptoms of tranquilliser overdose are:
- Slowed breathing
- Slow heart rate
What are the tranquilliser withdrawal symptoms?
If you opt to quit using tranquilisers, it is essential to get help from a doctor since withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. Withdrawal from tranquilisers is quite dangerous as the body has already become dependent on the drugs.
There are many types of tranquilisers, and the symptoms vary from one person to another. tranquilisers withdrawal symptoms are likely to be felt between 6 hours to 3 days which include:
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of sleep
- Body tremors
Tranquilisers addiction treatment
Generally, overcoming an addiction can be very difficult for anyone without medical help. Rehabilitation is an excellent approach to help overcome tranquilisers addiction. The duration of your stay at the rehabilitation centre will depend on the type of addiction and the severity of the symptoms. However, people are advised to stay for at least 28 days.
Medical detoxification can be used to remove excessive tranquilisers from your body system. Also, counselling and therapy will be conducted to educate you about the addiction and how you can live a drug-free life in days to come.
Besides, the healthcare provider can recommend that you undertake outpatient treatment, which will help follow up whether you can implement the new life skills you were taught during the counselling therapies.
Finally, it may take several weeks and months to treat tranquilliser symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are tranquilisers safe?
Are tranquilisers safe for humans?
What are the effects of tranquilisers?
Why do doctors prescribe tranquilisers?
Do tranquilisers make you sleep?
- Tranquilizer Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox
- Non-medical use, abuse and dependence on sedatives and tranquilisers among US adults: Psychiatric and socio-demographic correlates
- Sedative/Tranquilizer Misuse is Associated With Alcohol and…: Journal of Addiction Medicine
tranquilisers are drugs prescribed by a doctor to treat stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety. The reason why tranquilisers are popular is that when they are taken, they cause a calming effect by suppressing the functionality of the central nervous system.