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What Are CNS Depressants?

Rapa Law Office, P.C. Nov. 30, 2020

If you suffer from sleep disorders, panic attacks or anxiety, your doctor may prescribe you CNS depressants. These medications work on the central nervous system to slow down brain activity, causing you to feel calm and sleepy.

Because of their potential for abuse, the government classifies CNS depressants as controlled substances. This makes it illegal to have or use them without a valid prescription from a doctor. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, misuse of CNS depressants can have consequences besides legal ones.

What Does the Misuse of CNS Depressants Look Like?

If you have a prescription for CNS depressants, you should take only the recommended dosage, and only to treat the condition for which the doctor wrote the prescription. In other words, you should not take more than what the doctor prescribed or keep taking it after the prescription runs out unless the doctor writes another one.

You should not take CNS depressants merely to feel the effects if you do not have a medical need. It is against the law for you to share your medication with anyone else or take any medication prescribed to anyone else.

What Are the Potential Effects of Misuse?

When you use CNS depressants over a long period of time, you can develop substance use disorder. When this occurs, taking the drugs has an adverse effect on your life, yet you are unable to stop. If you do stop taking the drugs suddenly, you may experience acute withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, hallucinations, shakiness or seizures.

Prolonged use of CNS depressants can also cause you to build up a tolerance to them. This means that you have to keep taking more to achieve the same effects. This can lead to an overdose. Since depressants slow down your brain function, an overdose can cause your body to stop breathing. Fortunately, there is a medication called flumazenil that can reverse the effects, similar to the way that naloxone works for narcotic overdoses.

At first, you may not think that there is anything wrong with retaining unneeded portions of depressants or sharing them with others. However, the law regards these as drug offenses that can incur harsh penalties.