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Both physical and psychological dependence can be treated with therapy.

Many sedatives can be misused, but barbiturates and benzodiazepines are responsible for most of the problems with sedative use due to their widespread recreational or non-medical use.

Accidental deaths sometimes occur when a drowsy, confused user repeats doses, or when sedatives are taken with alcohol.

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.

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.

The paradoxical reactions may consist of depression, with or without suicidal tendencies, phobias, aggressiveness, violent behavior and symptoms sometimes misdiagnosed as psychosis.

Various kinds of sedatives can be distinguished, but the majority of them affect the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are brain chemicals performing communication between brain cells.

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.

About half of all the people admitted to emergency rooms in the U. as a result of nonmedical use of sedatives have a legitimate prescription for the drug, but have taken an excessive dose or combined it with alcohol or other drugs.

Since alcohol is a strong depressant that slows brain function and depresses respiration, the two substances compound each other's actions and this combination can prove fatal.

The long-term use of benzodiazepines may have a similar effect on the brain as alcohol, and are also implicated in depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mania, psychosis, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, delirium, and neurocognitive disorders (including benzodiazepine-induced persisting dementia which persists even after the medications are stopped).

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