What Are the Different Withdrawal Symptoms of Depressants?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 August 2019
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Depressants are a type of drug — some legal, some not — that impairs brain function and slows down the operation of the central nervous system. Alcohol falls into the depressant category, as do street drugs such as heroin. There also are prescription depressant drugs available that can help patients manage anxiety attacks and severe pain. It is important for people taking prescribed depressants to follow their doctors' orders at all times to avoid the withdrawal symptoms of depressants, which can include but are not limited to headaches, anxiety, vomiting and dizziness.

Common prescription depressants include benzodiazepine medications such as alprazolam and diazepam. Psychiatrists often prescribe these medications to people who suffer from anxiety disorders. A patient who has been taking this type of medication for a while and wants to stop should talk to his or her doctor about weaning off the drug. When a person stops taking benzodiazepines cold turkey he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms of depressants, including increased anxiety, hallucinations, dizziness and nausea. The process of weaning off a medication may differ from person to person, based on the amount of time he or she has been taking the drug and the prescribed dosage.


Opioid drugs also are considered depressants and are sold in both illegal and legal forms. Heroin is a prime example of an illegal opioid. Morphine and hydrocodone are two opioid that are legal when prescribed by a doctor. All opiates can cause similar withdrawal symptoms, especially if a person has become addicted to a specific drug. Typical opioid withdrawal symptoms are insomnia, vomiting, muscle aches and stomach pain.

Pain patients who are working with a doctor to manage their pain should follow the doctor's instructions for quitting the medicine to avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms of depressants.

A person addicted to heroin should turn to a professional detoxification center for help. Heroin is a powerful and dangerous drug, and it can be dangerous for a person to stop using the drug unsupervised. A detox center can help people safely wean themselves from street drugs in a monitored setting and can help people find counseling services.

Alcohol may be legal and commonly used among adults, but it is important for people to remember that it is a depressant. A person who has an occasional glass of wine with dinner probably does not need to worry about experiencing the withdrawal symptoms of depressants, but binge drinkers and alcoholics do. Irritability, dehydration, fatigue, headache and sweating are all symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.


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How severe are depressant withdrawal symptoms compared to other categories of drugs?

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