Higher doses of depressants can cause impairment of memory, judgment and coordination, irritability, paranoia,3 and suicidal thoughts. Some people experience the opposite of the intended effect, such as agitation or aggression. Using sedatives (drugs used to calm or soothe) and tranquilizers with other substances, particularly alcohol, can slow breathing and the heart rate and even lead to death.
Tolerance to many depressants can develop rapidly, with larger doses needed to achieve the same effect. The user, trying to reach the same high, may raise the dose to a level that results in coma or death by overdose. Long-term use of depressants can produce depression, chronic fatigue, breathing difficulties, sexual problems and sleep problems. As a dependency on the drug increases, cravings, anxiety or panic are common if the user is unable to get more. Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, weakness and nausea. For continual and high-dose users, agitation, high body temperature, delirium, hallucinations and convulsions can occur. Unlike withdrawal from most drugs, withdrawal from depressants can be life-threatening.
These drugs can also increase the risk of high blood sugar, diabetes, and weight gain (instances of up to 100 pounds have been reported). In a study conducted by USA Today, based on Food and Drug Administration data over a four-year period, antipsychotics (a type of depressant) were the prime suspects in forty-five deaths caused by heart problems, choking, liver failure and suicide.
Depressant addiction categories include: