Misusing sedatives or tranquilizers could lead to the future abuse of more dangerous substances, suggested a recent study by researchers from the University of Michigan School of Nursing’s Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health. The researchers analyzed national data of more than 35,000 American adults during their first one-year period, referred to as wave one. They analyzed the group that was misusing sedatives, including sleeping pills or tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax and muscle relaxers. They took a closer look at how many extra pills these people were consuming, for how longer than originally prescribed or did anyone consumed medicines meant for others. In their wave-two experiment, the researchers interviewed these people again three years later.
“Once you start using a potentially addictive medicine illegally, you’re at a substantially higher risk of using other substances, and this raises the risk of addiction,” said Carol Boyd, the lead author of the study. She said that the phenomenon was similar to that of the opioid painkiller epidemic. People are now staring at a similar predicament arising from prescribed sedatives and tranquilizers. Of late, a new trend has emerged in the United States wherein prescriptions for sedatives and tranquilizers have gone up drastically as suggested by this study findings, the researchers noted.
The study findings were both positive and negative. The study found a 76 percent markdown in the number of people misusing sedatives and tranquilizers after three years. However, it witnessed that 45 percent people who misused such drugs during wave one were struggling with substance use disorder in wave two. Such individuals had started abusing other harmful substances like alcohol, opioids and marijuana.
“Tranquilizers and sedatives are Schedule IV medications, which mean they are not believed to be as addictive as other drugs such as many opioids. For this reason, we should not be surprised that most misusers did not develop an ongoing tranquilizer or sedative addiction,” said Boyd. The cause of worry, according to Boyd, is the propensity of people — who abuse tranquilizers and sedatives — to use other dangerous substances due to this.
Some other salient features of study
The researchers made a few precise observations from their study of the two waves. They found that:
- Young adults between the ages 18-25 were at a higher risk of developing alcohol or drug problem later on.
- Among the people from this age group who misused sedatives and tranquilizers in wave one, 60 percent women and 67 percent men developed substance use disorder after three years.
- Men were more prone to develop additional substance use disorder than women.
The researchers were also wary of the condition that people who misused one substance, be it sedatives or tranquilizers, were also involved in the abuse of some other drug. The researchers are hopeful that the findings would help prevent and treat substance abuse among people. The clinicians should have fresh training on this to form a different perspective, feels Boyd. For a nation that is reeling under a sweeping epidemic triggered by opioid abuse, findings of the study should come as a wake-up call for thousands of Americans who are currently in the habit of misusing such drugs.
Seeking treatment for addiction
Clinicians should inform patients of the potential danger of misusing sedatives and tranquilizers. For someone who is currently struggling with a drug addiction, help is available in the form of treatment at a credible rehab. Drug addiction treatment generally comprises a comprehensive therapeutic strategy that includes medically supervised detox, followed by behavioral therapies. Detoxification helps a person addicted to any harmful substance assuage withdrawal symptoms and get prepared for subsequent course of treatment.
If you have a loved one grappling with an addiction, encourage him/her to seek immediate assistance from a treatment center in your vicinity. Based out of San Clemente, Sovereign Health is a leading substance abuse treatment provider with evidence-based programs for patients. Whether you are looking for detox treatment centers in California or any other place, call our 24/7 helpline number for more details. Our treatment for detox in California is among the most sought-after in the country.
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