In spite of the fact that each sedative acts in its own way, they produce beneficial relaxing effect by increasing GABA activity.At higher doses, it may result in slurred speech, staggering gait, poor judgment, and slow, uncertain reflexes.
Malcolm Lader at the Institute of Psychiatry in London estimates the incidence of these adverse reactions at about 5%, even in short-term use of the drugs.
The paradoxical reactions may consist of depression, with or without suicidal tendencies, phobias, aggressiveness, violent behavior and symptoms sometimes misdiagnosed as psychosis.
A study from the United States found that in 2011, sedatives and hypnotics were a leading source of adverse drug events (ADEs) seen in the hospital setting: Approximately 2.8% of all ADEs present on admission and 4.4% of ADEs that originated during a hospital stay were caused by a sedative or hypnotic drug.
A second study noted that a total of 70,982 sedative exposures were reported to U. poison control centers in 1998, of which 2310 (3.2%) resulted in major toxicity and 89 (0.1%) resulted in death.
Some heroin users may take them either to supplement their drug or to substitute for it.
Stimulant users may take sedatives to calm excessive jitteriness.
In both types of dependences, finding and using the sedative becomes the focus in life.
Both physical and psychological dependence can be treated with therapy.
Like alcohol, benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat insomnia in the short-term (both prescribed and self-medicated), but worsen sleep in the long-term.