*This article is excerpted from "Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction". For more information, go to www.prescriptiondrugaddiction.com

Sedatives are drugs that depress the central nervous system and are frequently used to treat anxiety, panic disorder, or insomnia; some are also used for seizure disorders. As these drugs interact with chemicals in the brain, they cause a reduction in brain activity, and bring about the sedative effect.

Benzodiazepines, among the most commonly prescribed sedatives, often prescribed for daytime use are:

Benzodiazepines frequently used for nighttime insomnia are:

Benzodiazepines used for seizure disorders are:

Benzodiazepine Abuse
Benzodiazepines are among the most-abused prescription drugs in the nation. They were first introduced into American medicine in 1960 to control anxiety. Today, it’s estimated that between 10 and 12 percent of the population use benzodiazepines within the course of a year. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the abuse of benzodiazepines, most deaths from benzodiazepines are caused by combined use with alcohol.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Use
Debate continues in the medical community over the safe, long term use of benzodiazepines, since the buildup of tolerance is often rapid, and severe withdrawal can occur if these drugs are stopped abruptly. Short-term use is considered a few weeks or less; long-term use refers to several months or more.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Symptoms of withdrawal from benzodiazepines and other sedatives include: insomnia, anxiety, depression, euphoria, incoherent thoughts, hostility, grandiosity, disorientation, tactical/auditory/visual hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts. Symptoms can progress to include abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, trembling, sweats, and seizures.

Anyone who has used benzodiazepines over an extended period of time—several weeks or more—should never stop taking the drug abruptly. After long-term use, medically unsupervised withdrawal can be severe, leading to delirium, fever, seizures, coma, and even death. Individuals wishing to stop the drug should ask their physicians about being medically supervised so that withdrawal can be managed as use of the drug is tapered.

Commonly Abused Stimulants
Stimulants are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system, increasing mental alertness, decreasing fatigue, and producing a sense of well being. These drugs are often prescribed for attention deficit (hyperactivity of ADHD) disorder and narcolepsy, a condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, even after adequate nighttime sleep. Common stimulation drugs include:

Interestingly, while the drugs listed above stimulate the central nervous system in adults, they have a calming effect on children. Consequently, these stimulants are often prescribed for children diagnosed with ADHD.The drugs produce a calming effect in these children by stimulating nerves that slow down other overactive nerves.

In adults, other stimulants such as Adipex-P, Bontril, Didrex, Ionamin, Meridia, Prelu-2, Pro-Fast, and Tenuate may be used to suppress appetite.

Stimulants such as Dexedrine and Ritalin increase the amount of the natural brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. The increased levels of these chemicals create both an increased heart rate and increased blood pressure and a sense of pleasure, resulting in an overall sense of heightened energy and sense of well-being. Once accustomed to an outside source of these chemicals, the body craves more of them.

Anyone taking high doses of stimulants runs the risk of irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, which can result in heart failure. High doses may also result in feelings of hostility and paranoia.

Stimulant Withdrawal
Symptoms of withdrawal from stimulants include: depression, fatigue, loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, insomnia, loss of appetite, suicidal thoughts and behavior, and paranoid delusions.

Author's Bio: 

Rod Colvin is the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Addicus Books, Inc., as well as the author of "Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction".