Sedative Addiction Treatment and Rehab Programs
Sedatives include several types of central nervous system (CNS) depressant medications with a variety of therapeutic uses.1 Prescription sedatives include:1,2
- Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital and pentobarbital.
- Benzodiazepines like Ativan (lorazepam), Halcion (triazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam).
- Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics or sleep medications such as Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone), and Sonata (zaleplon).
Sedatives may be prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, seizures, or problems with sleep. Though their respective mechanisms differ slightly, many sedative medications work by increasing the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain; by doing so, sedatives are able to decrease excitatory brain signals, making people feel sleepy and relaxed.1,2
However, these desired therapeutic effects may also be somewhat reinforcing or rewarding—which may make them more likely to be misused. Misuse of prescription sedatives can involve taking them more often or in larger doses than prescribed, taking them when they aren’t prescribed by a doctor, or sometimes via alternate routes of use, such as by crushing the pills and snorting them.1
According to a 2021 survey of Americans aged 12 or over, nearly 5 million people had misused prescription sedatives or tranquilizers, and there were 2.2 million people with either a sedative or tranquilizer related substance use disorder.3 Prescription sedative misuse can increase the risk of overdose, emergency room visits, and a variety of other harmful health issues, including addiction development.1,2 Though recovery can be challenging, sedative addiction treatment can be helpful and effective.
This article will cover:
- What inpatient treatment for sedative addiction is like
- What to expect from outpatient sedative rehab
- What detox programs for sedative addiction are like
- What types of therapies are used in sedative abuse treatment
- How to find a sedative addiction treatment program and get into rehab
- FAQs about sedative addiction treatment
Inpatient Sedative Addiction Treatment
Inpatient treatment for sedative addiction involves staying at a hospital or other facility that is staffed around the clock and has both medical and psychiatric staff available.4 This type of setting is a good option for people with more severe sedative addictions, those with significant mental or physical health issues that require additional medical attention, or those with unstable or unsupportive home environments that would otherwise not be conducive to recovery.4
Residential sedative addiction treatment programs offers around-the-clock staffing by counseling and support staff, with treatment lengths tailored to your recovery needs.4,5 As with their more hospital-like inpatient program counterparts, residential rehab settings are a good fit for people with relatively severe sedative addictions, a history of relapse, concurrent mental or physical health issues, and unstable or unsupportive housing situations.4
Since there are no medications that are FDA-approved to treat sedative addiction, treatment relies heavily on behavioral therapy.2,6 For maximum effectiveness, programs often use various types of techniques during treatment.5 These can include a range of behavioral therapies, individual counseling, education on substance use and associated issues, training to develop relapse prevention skills, support groups, and linkages to the community.4,5
Outpatient Programs for Sedative Addiction
Outpatient rehab programs may be more appropriate for people who have relatively less severe sedative addictions, less acute addiction related issues, have already completed an inpatient or residential programs have jobs or children that they can’t leave while in treatment, have access to reliable transportation, live in stable housing, and have supportive social and family networks.4 There are different levels of care within outpatient treatment, with required time commitments and programming intensity being adjustable, depending on your needs.5
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are the most intensive level of outpatient care and are able to adequately support people with potentially unstable physical and/or mental health issues.4 These programs involve at least 20 hours of services weekly.4 Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) involves at least 9 hours per week of services.4 Services are provided in a combination of group and individual behavioral therapy sessions, education, psychiatric care, family counseling, and various types of training as needed.4 Though the length of outpatient treatment programs may vary for each individual, the intensity of programming could decrease as you make progress in your recovery.7
Detox Programs for Sedative Addiction
Detox offers a safe place to withdraw under medical supervision from sedatives and any other substances you may be taking.5,8 This is especially important for people with significant sedative dependence because withdrawal can involve serious and potentially fatal symptoms.2,9 Undergoing a medically supervised detox with can help people manage uncomfortable sedative withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety and cravings.6 Medically managed detox facilities have doctors and nurses on staff to provide medication and caring support to keep people safe and comfortable while monitoring for and managing any withdrawal complications that arise.4,8
While there aren’t any medications that have been approved to specifically treat sedative use disorder beyond detox, withdrawal from sedatives often will be managed medically with pharmacological support.2,5 This can include first administering a relatively long-acting benzodiazepine such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) or clonazepam (Klonopin), or a barbiturate such as phenobarbital prior to a gradual dose reduction as symptoms resolve and withdrawal risks subside.8,9 Detox can be an important first step in recovery, however it alone is not a substitute for more comprehensive rehabilitation. For many individuals, detox is followed up with a period of inpatient or outpatient treatment to address deeper issues that contribute to addiction to promote long-term sobriety.5,8
Therapies for Sedative Addiction Treatment
Sedative addiction treatment programs utilize various therapies and programs to help you learn how to stay sober. Treatment should be tailored to meet your needs, combining therapies and programs that will best help you in your recovery.1,5 Different facilities may offer different techniques, and some programs and therapies work better than others for certain people, which is why individualized care is so important.5 Some of the techniques and therapeutic settings utilized throughout sedative addiction treatment may include:1,5
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a technique which can be applied in a variety of group and individual counseling settings. CBT can lead to healthier, more adaptive changes in thoughts and behaviors and can help people develop more effective coping strategies, stress management, and relapse prevention skills.
- Group therapy, where behavioral therapy is practiced with others in treatment and is facilitated by a therapist, allowing you to give and receive support from people in the same situation as you.
- Individual therapy, where you work with a therapist one-on-one to work on areas in which sedative use has impacted your life, such as work, legal problems, and social or family relationships, as well as your sobriety.
- Family counseling, where you and your loved ones can work on your relationships and learn how to cooperate and create a supportive recovery environment.
Getting into a Sedative Rehab
Finding a sedative rehab can feel overwhelming, but there are resources you can use. Some ways to find a rehab to meet your needs include:
- Talking to your doctor or therapist. They can refer you to a rehab they are familiar with.
- Using the treatment finder through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. You can find it here and narrow down the search with various criteria.
- Using the rehab directory at Rehabs.com. You can find it here and tailor your search by location and insurance provider.
- Call your insurance provider. They can give you contact information for rehabs that are in-network with your plan.
Getting admitted to a sedative rehab involves an evaluation and assessment. A member of the treatment team may ask you questions about your current and past substance use; treatment history; mental and physical health; as well as any work, family, housing, and legal issues you may have; transportation situation; and your family history of substance use and mental health.8
American Addiction Centers has a free helpline that is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and link you to treatment that is tailored to meet your needs. You can call to be connected to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators, who can assist you with your questions and help you find the right program for you.