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Tranquilizers

in Drug Types

Tranquilizers are a type of drugs used to treat most  anxiety symptoms or issues with sleeping.
Most tranquilizers have a calming effect by depressing the nervous system in a way similar to alcohol. Tranquilizers are among the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. The FDA estimates that over 60 million people receive prescriptions for tranquilizers every year.

In some cases, the term "tranquilizer" is inaccurate. Although they may produce specific anxiety-reducing effects, the members of the tranquilizer group of drugs have the same clinical effects as sedatives such as the barbiturates or downers.
The much-sought relaxing and anxiety-reducing effects of the tranquilizers are simply the early stages of the biochemical process of sedation. The effects of sedation are a continuum from relaxation to significant sedation to coma to death. Central nervous system depressants, including minor tranquilizers, sedatives, and alcohol, place the user on the sedation continuum. The specific dosage and drug used determines how far the user goes on that pathway.

Tranquilizers are frequently abused because of their ability to reduce anxiety. They are addictive because tolerance develops rapidly, and more and more are needed to be effective.
 
Types of Tranquilizers
The most commonly known forms of tranquilizers are the benzodiazepines (or "benzos"). These include Xanaxi, Ativan, Valiumi, and Librium. Those with sedating effects are used as sleeping pills, such as Restoril, Halcion, Dalmane, Serax, and others (see sedatives).

Anti-psychotics Tranquilizers:
Anti-psychotics because they are generally used to treat symptoms of paranoia, psychosis, or serious distortions in the perception of reality such as hallucinations or delusions. These drugs include Haldol, Navane, Thorazine, Mellaril, and others. They are not central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines but can be sedating in higher doses. While they are not useful in normal alcohol withdrawal, they can be useful for the psychosis and agitation associated with Delirium Tremens.
 
Effects on the Central Nervous Systemi"
Minor tranquilizers seem to have direct depressant effects on brain areas that regulate wakefulness and alertness, very similar in effect to alcohol and sedative barbiturates. They enhance the action of receptors that inhibit central nervous system stimulation, and conversely, inhibit the action of receptors that stimulate the nervous system. In other words, if the nervous system were a car, these drugs help press down the brakes but make it harder to press down on the gas.

Since the minor tranquilizers of the benzodiazepine family have an effect similar to alcohol on the nervous system, they are useful in treating alcohol withdrawal. Those with a longer duration of action, such as Librium and Valium, are used most often.

Major tranquilizers primarily affect specific receptors in the brain that reduce psychotic thoughts, perceptions and agitation.
 
Intoxication:
Tranquilizers are powerful drugs that can impair our ability to function and should only be used as directed by a physician. Abusive or improper use may result in unpleasant and/or dangerous side effects such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A "floating" or disconnected sensation
  • Depressed heartbeat
  • Depressed breathing
  • Excessive sleep and sleepiness
  • Mental confusion and memory loss
  • Addictioni

Life Risks:
Tranquilizers are particularly dangerous in combination with other depressants, such as alcohol or barbiturates, because they magnify each other's effects. In some rare instances, tranquilizers may produce a so-called "paradoxical effect," leading to increased anxiety and agitation. Paradoxical reactions may be more common among children and the elderly. Long-term use of some of these drugs has been associated with increased aggressivity and significant depression. Tranquilizer use may be associated with memory problems and cerebral atrophy (brain shrinkage).
 
Withdrawali
Essentially, withdrawal symptoms for the tranquilizers feel like the opposite of the therapeutic effects. The short-acting benzodiazapines (Xanax, Halcion, Restoril, Ativan, and Serax) can produce especially severe withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms, that are similar to those in alcohol withdrawal, include jittery, shaky feelings and any of the following:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shaky hands
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and agitation 

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