Common Signs & Symptoms of Sedative Addiction

Get in front of an sedative addiction by learning the signs and symptoms. Read what causes sedative addiction, what signs to look out for, and potential long-term effects. Understanding your symptoms is the first step to successful healing.

Understanding Sedatives

Learn about sedatives and substance abuse

Education is an essential tool in the fight to overcome sedative addiction. The more you understand about the signs, symptoms, and effects of sedative abuse, the better prepared you will be to get help for yourself or a loved one. 

Sedatives encompass a broad category of medications and other substances like alcohol that produce a tranquilizing effect when abused. For example, prescription medications like Xanax or Klonopin are benzodiazepine-based sedatives that are highly useful for treating ailments like anxiety. These drugs can be safe and effective when taken within the guidelines of the prescribing physician. However, because they can create a high if taken in large amounts or recreationally, they’ve become popular substances of abuse. 

If you abuse any sedative, you run the risk of developing an addiction that you can’t control on your own. But with the right help, you can take back control of your life. The comprehensive treatment program at Conway Behavioral Health Hospital can guide you towards a healthy, sedative-free future.  


Sedative addiction statistics 

The following statistics shed light on the rates of sedative abuse in the United States: 

  • The American Psychiatric Association, or APA, states that 0.2% of the U.S. population ages 18 and above will struggle with sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder in a typical 12-month period. 

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for sedative addiction  

Your risk for addiction can be influenced by a variety of internal and external factors, including the following: 

  • Early exposure to sedative abuse 
  • Family history of substance abuse 
  • Gender (women are more likely than men to use sedatives)  
  • Availability of sedatives 
  • Alcohol use disorder 
  • Novelty-seeking 
  • Impulsivity 
  • Associating with individuals who use or abuse sedatives 


Signs and symptoms of sedative addiction 

A person who is struggling with sedative addiction may experience a wide range of signs and symptoms, including the following: 

Behavioral symptoms: 

  • Using prescription sedatives in a greater amount, with greater frequency, or for longer than directed by the prescribing physician 
  • Attempting to borrow or steal prescription sedatives 
  • Attempting to acquire multiple prescriptions for sedatives 
  • Lying or secrecy about one’s sedative use 
  • Uncharacteristic argumentativeness and/or fighting 
  • Using sedatives when it is clearly unsafe to do so, such as while consuming alcohol or taking other drugs, or when driving a car 
  • Using sedatives even after experiencing negative repercussions from prior use 
  • Trying and failing to end one’s sedative use 

Physical symptoms: 

  • Slurred speech 
  • Drop in blood pressure 
  • Diminished coordination 
  • Slow or shallow breathing 
  • Depressed pulse 

Mental symptoms: 

  • Confusion 
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Impaired memory 
  • Cognitive deficiencies 
  • Inability to focus and/or concentrate 


Effects of sedative addiction and substance abuse

Failing to get effective prescription painkiller addiction treatment can put you at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes, including the following: 

  • Fractured relationships 
  • Onset or worsening of symptoms of other mental health conditions 
  • Decline in overall physical health 
  • Memory disturbances 
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Declined ability to perform well at work, potentially resulting in job loss 
  • Chronic unemployment 

While these damages can have a serious impact on your life, you can overcome them with the right support. By entering treatment, you can heal from the past and avoid further damages to your well-being. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Sedative addiction and co-occurring disorders

People who struggle with sedative addiction may also have an increased risk of developing the following mental health disorders: 

  • Depressive disorders 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Other substance use disorders  
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Schizophrenia 

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of sedative withdrawal and overdose

Effects of withdrawal: Depending upon the type of sedative you have been using, trying to stop once you’ve become addicted can trigger several distressing symptoms. Known as withdrawal, this experience may include the following symptoms: 


  • Intense cravings for sedatives 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Insomnia 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Tics and tremors 
  • Thoughts of suicide 
  • Agitation and irritability 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic 
  • Racing heart rate 
  • Tinnitus  

Effects of overdose: Anyone who demonstrates the following signs after using a sedative may have overdosed and should seek immediate medical attention: 

  • Drop in body temperature 
  • Fading heart rate 
  • Disrupted breathing 
  • Internal bleeding 
  • Hallucinations  
  • Delirium 
  • Coma 
  • Double vision 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Loss of ability to control balance 
  • Loss of control over motor functions